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M.A. Oxon., F.R.G.S., F.S.A. 

Vicar of Totland Bay, I.W. 
Formerly of the Church Missionary Society, Uganda and Palestine 




Printed in Great Britain 


During the last forty or fifty years a Hood of light 
has been thrown on the ancient history of Egypt, 
Babylonia, Syria, and the other lands so intimately 
associated with Palestine, as well as on that of the 
Holy Land itself, thereby illustrating and con- 
firming the Scripture narrative. Towns and cities 
buried for thousands of years have been compelled 
to yield up their secrets to the spade of the explorer ; 
the story of forgotten tribes and nations has been 
discovered : ancient languages have been re-learnt, 
and their records and literature, personal corre- 
spondence and private accounts, have been made 
accessible to the ordinary reader. 

In another field of research, that of the manners 
and customs, language and folk-lore, of these 
Eastern lands, much has also been accomplished, 
but in both much yet remains to be done. The 




present work is a small contribution towards a 
fuller knowledge of the latter field. 

The circumstance of a long sojourn in the Holy 
Land has given the author a somewhat intimate 
acquaintance with its inhabitants. The knowledge 
thus acquired he feels he ought not to keep to 
himself, especially as, unlike most of the records 
revealed by pick and spade, no inconsiderable 
portion is in danger of being lost through the 
changes which time is bringing on the land. 

C. T. W. 

Totland Bay, I.W., 

January 23, 1906. 


pai ; ^. 



RELIGION - - - - - - - 10 


religion (continued) - - - ■ - 35 


VILLAGE LIFE - - - - - - 57 


DOMESTIC LIFE - - - - - - 89 


domestic LIFE (continued) - - - 107 

domestic life (continued) - - - - 117 


domestic life (continued) - - - - 132 




DOMESTIC LIFE {continued) - - - - - 147 




AGRICULTURE - - - - - - 188 

agriculture (continued) ----- 205 

agriculture (continued) - 226 

minor industries ------ 242 

miscellaneous ------ 262 


miscellaneous (continued)- - 283 


PROVERBS --.-... 302 


nazareth ..... Frontispiece 
es salt ------ To face page 6 


A FELLAH ----- „ 26 

PLACE) ..... }) 26 




KANATlR- ----- „ 28 

SACRED TREE - - - - „ 34 


AN ALlYEH ----- „ 61 

SHEPHERD AND SHEEP - - - - ,, 70 


PARAPET OF "TILING" - - - - „ 72 

A SHOP IN MOAB ... ,,72 


WOMEN SIFTING CORN - - - - ,,118 

WOMEN GRINDING - - - - ,,118 



TIBERIAS- --"--,, 152 

SHEPHERD AND SHEEP - - - - ,,162 






CAMELS CARRYING stone - - - To face page 184 





BETHANY ..... 

SAKlYEH ------ 





THEBEZ) ----- 
















An apology is needed for adding another to the 
long list of books on the Holy Land. My excuse 
is that the volume deals with the people rather 
than with the land, and that, too, from ivithin. 
Many years' residence and work in Palestine have 
given me exceptional opportunities of seeing the 
inner life of the present inhabitants of the Holy 
Land, more especially that of the Fellahin, of 
whom this work treats. I have been brought into 
closest contact with many of them, both Christian 
and Moslem, staying in their houses, joining them 
at their meals, travelling long journeys with them, 
seeking to enter into, and sympathize with, their 
joys and sorrows in all the vicissitudes of human 
life, and often, for days at a time, hearing and 
speaking nothing but their language. I have in 
many cases gained their confidence, I believe, and 
at the same time, while not forgetful of their short- 
comings, I have learnt to appreciate their good 
qualities and to esteem some of them very highly. 
It is a remarkable fact that nearly all the works 


dealing with the Holy Land and the manners and 
customs of its people have been written, not by 
residents, but by travellers. There are undoubted 
advantages in this fact, but there are also grave 

To the new-comer from the West, who obtains 
his first glimpse of Eastern life as he sets foot on 
the shores of Palestine, all he sees and hears comes 
with startling novelty. Every turn of the road or 
street, each group by the wayside, the long lines of 
camels winding down the valleys, the picturesque 
crowds of an Eastern market, the varied incidents 
of peasant life, all present brilliant pictures to eye 
and mind with a vividness and freshness which are 
apt to be much dimmed by long residence among 
these scenes and intimate familiarity with them. 

But if we seek to get below the surface and to 
go more thoroughly into the habits and customs of 
the people, and to understand their thoughts and 
characters, much more is needed than even the 
most protracted journey through the country can 

Everything connected with that land which was 
the cradle of our holy religion or which throws 
light on the manners and customs which obtained 
there in olden days is of value. 

To the Fellahin (or peasants) of Palestine it is 
to whom we must chiefly go to-day to elucidate 
those manners and customs, and not to the Jews. 
The latter are, for the most part, strangers in their 
own land, immigrants from Europe or other conti- 
nents, who bring with them the tongue, garb, and 


ideas of the countries where they have been so long 

The Fellahin, on the contrary, are probably 
to a large extent the descendants of the various 
Gentile tribes, who were never exterminated by 
the Israelites, but became a race of serfs, herding 
the cattle and tilling the land of their Hebrew 

Professor Sayce has shown that where a people 
has been wholly or chiefly commercial, they have 
been for the most part absorbed into, or dis- 
possessed by, a conquering race, but that where 
they have been agricultural or pastoral the wave 
of conquest has passed over them, leaving them 
comparatively unchanged. 

This has been the case in Palestine. Hebrew 
and Egyptian, Chaldean and Greek, Roman and 
Arab, have conquered the land ; but the peasant 
descendants of the pagan tribes which dwelt there 
at the dawn of history have clung to the soil 
through all these changes. Bending to the storm, 
they were lost sight of for awhile, but reappeared 
as the country settled down after each invasion. 
Colonel Conder, writing (' Palestine,' p. 63) on 
this subject, says : ' The Fellahin have been called 
" modern Canaanites," and if by this is meant de- 
scendants of the Semitic race which the Egyptians 
found in Palestine before the time of the Hebrew 
conquest, the term seems justified by what is 

The language spoken by the Fellahin to-day is 
a Semitic tongue, viz., Arabic, closely related, not 



only to Hebrew, Syriac, and Chaldee, but also to 
Assyrian, whicli latter the discoveries at Tel 
Amarna show to have been the literary tongue of 
the days of A braham and the early patriarchs. 

Such being the case, it will be readily seen that 
a knowledge of the manners, customs, and dialects 
of the Fellahin of Palestine is likely to throw much 
light on those of the inhabitants of that land in 
Bible times, as well as on the scenes depicted and 
the histories narrated in the Sacred Volume. 

It is of great importance, too, that the manners 
and customs now obtaining should be carefully 
studied and noted, as there is much danger that 
many of these will in a short time be lost. 

We are accustomed to speak of the East as 
' unchanging '; and when compared with Europe 
and America it is no doubt correct. Still, even so, 
this epithet is only relatively, and not absolutely 
true. In bygone times various things have been 
introduced from Europe and other lands, and 
become naturalized, and the same process is going 
on now. New ideas are in some cases readily 
adopted. Thus, when the railway between Jaffa 
and Jerusalem was built, it was a surprise to many 
that the people so quickly adopted it as a means 
of travel. The same remark applies with equal 
force to the postal system, telegraph, machinery, 
as well as to smaller articles of Western origin and 

Again, as a result of the modern civil code 
introduced into Turkey, chiefly through the in- 
fluence of the late Midhat Pasha, agricultural land 


has largely passed from the communal ownership 
of villages into that of individuals. 

Material for clothing is being more and more 
imported from Europe, with the result that the 
native weavers cannot compete. As a consequence, 
the native industry is dying out. Thus, in a village 
I know, where a few years ago forty looms were in 
full work, only six are now to be found. 

The ever-growing poverty of the people, due 
for the most part to the increasing burden of 
direct taxation, is making it less and less possible 
for them to live from the land. This tends to 
drive many, especially of the poorer or less thrifty 
of the peasants, to the towns to seek for work. It 
has led also to a great increase of late years in the 
amount of emigration, particularly from certain 

A great deal of variety still exists in the local 
dialects. This is due, doubtless, to the isolation 
of the different districts in times past ; this, again, 
being the result of the difficulties and dangers of 
travelling. Fifty years ago a journey from Jeru- 
salem to Es Salt (the ancient Ramoth Gilead), 
east of the Jordan, would have been considered a 
more serious undertaking than a voyage to America 
would be nowadays. The inevitable result was 
that there was hardly any intercourse between 
different districts, with the natural consequence of 
considerable variation in the words and phrases in 
common use in the several places. 

An incident related to me when I had but 
recently come to Jerusalem (by way of encouraging 


me in my study of the language !) will illustrate 
this. A man from Es Salt and another from Gaza 
had been spending the evening together at the 
house of a mutual friend. The man from Es Salt 
told a story which the other could not understand, 
until the host, who was acquainted with both parts 
of the country, explained it to him in his local 
phraseology ! 

This was probably an exaggeration. Still, the 
fact remains that the words in ordinary use in 
various parts of the country differ very consider- 
ably, though the greater facilities for travel of late 
years will tend to approximate the different dialects 
to each other more and more. Education, too, 
which, as will be seen further on, is making rapid 
advances, is having the same effect. 

Local distinctions, words, customs, etc., are 
often strongly marked. It is not easy to say how 
they have arisen, but one possible explanation is, 
that the inhabitants of the various groups of villages 
where such customs, etc., obtain are descendants 
from different ancient tribes. 

The variations in feature which can be noticed 
in different districts, and which are often sufficiently 
marked to enable a person conversant with the 
country to tell fairly accurately from whence a 
stranger hails, would seem to point in the same 

The small area in which peculiar customs occur, 
and the comparative isolation of these areas which 
still prevails, make it often extremely difficult to 
ascertain local customs and usages. Many of these 


can only be discovered accidentally or by long 
residence in the particular locality. The people of 
neighbouring villages may be quite unaware of the 
existence of a certain custom, while only a few 
miles away it may be very familiar. 

I have known intelligent, educated natives to be 
entirely ignorant of certain customs, and even to 
deny their existence, because they were not in 
vogue in their own particular district, whereas 
further inquiry or fuller acquaintance with other 
parts revealed the fact that they were perfectly 
familiar to others. 

That being so, the fact that such-and-such a 
custom, or rule, or community, is unknown in the 
country generally is no proof whatever that it 
does not exist at all, as it may be confined to a 
small out-of-the-way group of villages, or to only 
one or two places. For instance, probably not one 
European resident in Palestine out of a hundred has 
ever even heard of the Baraghafeh (Chapter III.). 
It was many years before I knew of their existence, 
spite of the fact that they were in the district in 
which I was living and working. 

Another difficulty in ascertaining accurately such 
manners and customs as are at all peculiar to the 
Fellahm is that they are very sensitive about them, 
and are sometimes very uncommunicative on the 
subject. To a stranger, moreover, they are apt to 
repudiate customs of which they are at all ashamed, 
or which they consider to reflect on themselves in 
any way. Nor must the inquirer ever ask a leading 
question, or one which would at all show what 


reply he expects. The Oriental always likes to 
give a 'pleasant answer,' i.e., one which will 
coincide with the preconceived ideas of his in- 
terrogator. It is also useless to apply to the 
townsman for information about the Fellahin, as 
he really knows very little of their manners and 
customs. There is no distinction of classes, as in 
England, but there is a very real one between the 
Medaniin, or townsmen, and the Fellahin. or 

Palestine is a land where the old order of things 
and the new meet together. The modern steam- 
ship frequents its harbours and roadsteads, the 
whistle of the locomotive wakes the echoes of 
some of its valleys, and the telegraph-wires stretch 
from town to town and bring the latest news of 
Europe and America to its cities hour by hour. 
Yet in its distant hamlets, secluded gorges, and 
barren wilderness, life is much what it was when 
Jacob fed his flocks on these same hills, or Ruth 
gleaned in the fields of Bethlehem. 

A few years ago I went one morning to the 
railway- station at Jerusalem to bid farewell to 
some English friends. Three hours later I had 
stepped back fifty centuries, and was sitting in a 
Bedouy tent in the wilderness of Judea, welcomed 
by a sheikh clad, probably, much as Abraham was 
in those far-off days, surrounded by the sons of 
Ishmael, differing little in their appearance from 
their wild nomad ancestor, and conversing with 
them in a tongue which, though not identical with, 
is yet closely related to, that which the Father of 


the Faithful spoke, and in which he communed 
with God on these same hills. 

Whether or not the changes now taking place in 
Palestine are destined to be permanent time alone 
will show. 

The following pages are an attempt to record 
some of the customs and manners of the Fellahin 
as they obtain in the Holy Land at the present 
day, in the hope that they may thus be rescued 
from oblivion, and thereby fuller light be thrown 
on the Word of God, and also that Western 
Christians may be led to take a deeper and more 
sympathetic interest in the present inhabitants of 
that land where was lived 

' that sinless Life, 
That breathed beneath the Syrian blue. 1 



The Syrian peasantry are a particularly religious 
race. Religious topics form a frequent subject of 
conversation, and they will discuss abstruse theo- 
logical questions, such as predestination, by the 
hour. But as one gets to know them better this 
religiousness, which at first greatly surprises a 
Western, proves in most cases to be very super- 
ficial. Such as it is, however, it enters largely into 
their everyday life and language. 

Everything that happens to them, good or ill, 
is directly from God's hand. After telling one of 
some misfortune which has befallen them, they 
will conclude with the words ' EL hamdu I Hah, 
el hamdu Tllah' (Praise be to God, praise be to 
God). In all their troubles or misfortunes there 
is little or no looking at second causes. Even in 
cases where the trouble or misfortune is manifestly 
the result of their or someone else's carelessness, 
or where an illness has been brought on by their 
own sin or foolishness, it is invariably attributed to 
the will of God. 

The name of the Almighty is continually 


brought into their conversation. If on meeting a 
man one inquires after his health, the answer will 
almost always be, ' El hamdu Fllah,' or, ' Ashkur er 
Rub ' (Praise God, or, I thank the Lord). Or if 
one asks another, ' Do you think it will rain 
to-day V ' In shallah ' (If God wills), he will reply, 
or, • Allah yalam ' (God knows) ; or should the rain 
be much needed, a frequent answer will be, ' Allan 
karim ' (God is generous). The beggar as he holds 
out his hand for alms whines, ' Allah yuatik' (May 
God give you) — i.e., in return for what you are 
about to give me — or, ' Hassaneh Tllali ' (An alms 
for God) ; and on receiving anything expresses his 
thanks by • Keththir kheirak' (May He— God- 
increase or multiply your goods), or by ' Yutoivwil 
unirak' (May He prolong your life), and similar 
phrases. Two friends have met on the road. On 
parting one will say, 'Allah ymahhil 'alek' (May 
God make your road smooth for you), and the 
other will respond with the words, * W Allah 
yahfthak ' (And may God preserve you) ; and so 
on through every matter of daily life. / 

It will readily be seen that this frequent use of 
the Divine name too often degenerates into a mere 
form. Once when on a long journey a horse in my 
caravan cast a shoe, and on arriving at the next 
halting-place a farrier was sent for to replace it. 
He was a Moslem, and at every nail he drove into 
the hoof he uttered the formula, ' Attakil 'aP Allah ' 
(I trust in God), and could not see, when remon- 
strated with, that there was any irreverence in the 
constant repetition of these words. Whatever the 


original idea underlying the use of such expres- 
sions, the practical result is too often the greatest 
profanity. Thus, one of the very commonest forms 
of the simple expression ■ Yes ' is really an oath 
by the name of God, and the way in which the 
Mohammedans will use that holy name when 
trying to make a person believe a palpable lie 
makes one shudder. 

The great majority of the Fellahin are by 
religion Moslems, or, as they are more commonly 
called in Europe, Mohammedans. The Moslem 
(more accurately, Muslim) is one who is surrendered 
to God, and his religion he calls * Islam,' or ' Sur- 
render.'* The Koran (literally, ■ Reading ') is his 
sacred book, and the chief, though not the only, 
source of his religion. This book is largely derived 
from the Old and New Testaments, which in 
theory all Moslems acknowledge. They also admit 
our Blessed Lord to be a Prophet, in some respects 
putting Him above Mohammed ; and have the 
greatest respect for Abraham, Moses, David, 
Solomon, and many of the Old Testament saints ; 
but they deny Christ's Divinity and reject His 

* It is not possible to give within the limits of a work of 
this kind anything like a succinct account of Mohammedanism, 
nor, indeed, does it lie within its scope to do so. The student 
who may wish to pursue the subject further will find full 
information in such books as the following : ' Mahomet and 
Islam,' Sir W. Muir (R.T.S.) ; 'Koran; Sir W. Muir 
(S.P.C.K.); 'The Dictionary of Islam/ T. P. Hughes; 
' Religion of the Crescent, 1 St. Clare Tisdall ; ' Cradle of 
Islam,' Zwiemer. 


There are, as every student of Islam knows, 
numerous sects in that religion,* many of these 
being bitterly hostile to each other. In Palestine 
the Moslems are chiefly Sunnis, or orthodox 
Mohammedans, and belong for the most part, I 
believe, to the Hanifites, followers of Abu Hani- 
fah, one of their four recognised divisions. In the 
northern districts, however, there are a good many 
Met'awali,f and here and there communities of a 
remarkable sect known as the Shazeliyeh or Shada- 
liyeh. The Mohammedan peasantry have but a 
superficial acquaintance, for the most part, with 
their own religion. 

Their idea of God is a terribly low one, so much 
so that I doubt if it comes up to that of many 
heathen. Many a time as I talked with them have 
the words of the Prayer-Book version of Ps. 1. 21 
come to my mind : ' Thou thoughtest wickedly 
that I am even such a one as thyself.' Their idea 
of Him is too often that of a weakly indulgent 
Being who is to be cheated or coaxed into letting 

* A recent Persian writer (a Mohammedan) states that 
there are seventy principal Moslem sects, each of which has 
several subdivisions. 

f The Mefawali are followers of \, the son-in-law of 
Mohammed. While accepting the Koran as Divine, they do 
not acknowledge Mohammed as the Prophet or Apostle of 
God, but accord that honour to "AH, who was the fourth 
Khalifa or Imam. They hold that God intended to give 
His revelation to him, but that the angel Gabriel, who was 
entrusted with the mission, by mistake gave the Koran to 
Mohammed instead of to "AH. 


them into heaven on the Day of Judgment. ' Oh, 
I know about Saidna Isa ' (the Moslem name for 
our Blessed Lord), said a peasant woman to a 
lady who was speaking about Him to a group of 
Mohammedan women ; ' He will tell lies for us on 
the Day of Judgment.' 

It is a remarkable fact that among Moslems 
there is no clerical order and no priesthood of any 
kind whatever. In most villages there is, however, 
a man called a Khatib, or ' Exhorter,' as the word 
might be rendered. His duties are to act as 
Imam — i.e., to lead the prayers in the mosque on 
Friday (the day on which public worship is cele- 
brated) and on other special occasions ; to wash 
and prepare for the grave the bodies of all men 
and boys ; while, at weddings, before him takes 
place the formal agreement between the bride- 
groom and the father of the bride, which consti- 
tutes the actual marriage ceremony. In the villages 
of Palestine the Khatib is often the schoolmaster, 
and also acts as spy for the Government. As a 
class these men are ignorant and bigoted, but I 
have known many good and honourable excep- 

Till recently every Khatib received half a bushel 
of wheat yearly at harvest-time from each family 
in the village, but if unpopular he could not always 
obtain his due. A story is told of how the peasants 
of a certain village, who would not give their Khatib 
his allowance of corn, were outwitted by him. He 
went round the threshing-floors from one man to 
another, but each put him off with some excuse, 


and he returned empty-handed. The next Friday, 
when the hour arrived at which lie should have 
been at his place in the mosque as Imam, he was 
not there. The people waited, but he did not come. 
Some of the leading men went to his house to 
inquire the cause of his absence. 

' I am not going to prayer,' was his reply. ' You 
do not say your prayers properly. You talk, and 
some rise up before I do.' 

' Oh no ! we will go through all the forms in due 
order, if only you will come.' 

' I will consent to come and act as Imam if you 
will put a solemn curse on everyone who does not 
say his prayers properly or who rises from the 
prostrations before I do.' 

To this the elders agreed, and the Khatib accom- 
panied them to the mosque, where an announce- 
ment to this effect was made. The prescribed 
forms were then duly gone through to the closing 
prostrations. The Imam bowed himself to the 
earth, and all the people followed his example. 
But when the words had been repeated he remained 
with his face to the ground. All waited in silence, 
but the Khatib did not move. No one dared to 
rise, from fear of the curse. At last the people 
began to complain, and angry voices rose from the 
prostrate crowd. Then the Khatib spoke : 

' You would not give me my corn when I asked 
it yesterday, and I shall not rise till every man of 
you has paid me his dues in full.' 

On hearing this a babel of shouts arose from the 
mosque, the men calling to their wives and children 


to bring the corn. The crafty Imam bade one of 
his sons see that each man's quota of com was 
forthcoming in full measure. Not till this was 
done, and the floor of the mosque heaped high 
with wheat, were the unfortunate men allowed to 

Besides the Khatib, there will sometimes be an 
'A Urn, or ' learned ' man, in the village. These 
TJlcma are so called from the fact of their having 
studied in the great Mohammedan University of 
El Azhar, in Cairo, and are much looked up to by 
the people. 

In addition to the Khutabeh and Ulema just 
mentioned, many Dervishes (or Derwishes) are 
found. They may be compared with the begging 
friars of the Middle Ages, except, of course, that 
the Dervishes are not celibates. They are generally 
distinguished by their long, loose robes and tall 
hats of various shapes and colours, as black, green, 
or drab, with or without turbans. They call them- 
selves ' Dervishes ' or ' Poor Dervishes,' or simply 
1 Poor ' (Fakir), synonymous terms, for Dervish is 
a Persian word derived from the term JDcr, which 
in that language means a gate or door, and implies 
one who wanders from door to door begging. 
This designation is used by the Dervishes them- 
selves to show their dependence on the goodness 
of God and that they seek His bounty only. It is 
in this sense that the term ' Poor ' (Fakir) must 
be understood, and not as indicating their actual 

They are divided into two main classes, known 


as ' Regular ' and ' Irregular ' — in other words, 
those who have rules, or 'paths,' as they are 
termed, and those who have none. The ' Regular 
Dervishes ' are also designated * Travellers ' — i.e., 
those who are travelling along the road to heaven, 
this being the idea in which originated the name 
of paths, by which their rules, rites, and ceremonies 
are known. The ' Irregular Dervishes ' are of two 
classes, one known as Azadiyeh, a term derived 
from the Persian word Azad (Free), while the 
others style themselves Mqjathib, or ' Tradi- 
tionaries,' because they profess to have received the 
special regulations or tenets of their orders by 
unbroken tradition, from the first Khalifah, or 
* Successor ' of Mohammed, Abu Bekr, and the 
Imam 'Ali, Mohammed's son-in-law. 

When a man wishes to join any of these Orders, 
certain ceremonies take place, which are, usually, 
as follows. The postulant goes to the head of the 
particular Order into which he wishes to gain 
admittance, and says : ' Oh, So-and-so ! I wish to 
repent to God by your hand, and to enter into 
covenant with you.' The terms on which the new 
member is to be admitted are then discussed. 
When these are satisfactorily arranged, the novice 
is solemnly bathed by the Superior. This ceremony 
over, the Superior usually spits in the other's mouth, 
it being supposed that he thus imparts his spirit 
to him. He is next formally invested with the 
Zi, or special headdress of the Order, and thence- 
forth is reckoned a full member of the Dervish 




It is impossible to state with any precision the 
number, varieties, and regulations of the different 
Dervish bodies, partly because they are very 
numerous, and partly because some at least are 
esoteric, and do not divulge their peculiar tenets, 
rules, and rites, to any but those within the circle 
of the Order. 

There are thirty-two recognised bodies of Regular 
and Irregular Dervishes, called for the most part 
after the names of their founders, and originating 
in various places and at different times, from 
149 a.h. to 1164 a.h. — i.e., from about the end of 
the eighth century a.d. to about the middle of the 

All these men are regarded by the Moslems 
with the greatest veneration, and are considered 
specially holy, even though, as is sometimes the 
case, their characters are known to be of the vilest. 
On the other hand they are popularly considered 
to be extremely avaricious. One of the peasant 
proverbs runs : * Quicker than the lightning's flash, 
like a Dervish at sight of gain.' 

They are credited with the possession of special 
power in writing effective charms, and many of 
them trade on this, and on their reputed sanctity, 
sometimes becoming quite rich. Our Lord's in- 
junction to the Twelve Apostles, ' Provide neither 
gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses ' (St. Matt, 
x. 9), was, in my opinion, directed against some 
such abuse of the miraculous power He had 
bestowed upon them, and not intended, as is 
commonly held, to forbid them to take any money 


with them.* In short, He prohibited them from 
trading on the possession of these gifts, and from 
using them for their personal enrichment, instead 
of as proofs of their Divine commission. 

In connection with this subject, it may be in- 
teresting to note that there is at the present time 
a very remarkable illustration of the missions of 
the Twelve, and the Seventy, in the case of the 
Mohammedan sect of the Shazeliyeh mentioned 
above. This sect has in recent years had a fresh 
impetus given to it by a remarkable woman in 
Southern Syria, who is considered a kind of 
prophetess among her adherents. She sends her 
disciples out for weeks at a time, to go about the 
country and preach the peculiar tenets of the sect. 
They are at home for the greater part of the 
year following their occupations of agriculturists, 
carpenters, weavers, etc., and for the remainder 
they go about from village to village, receiving no 
remuneration for the work, but subsisting on the 
hospitality of the peasantry, and teaching as oppor- 
tunity offers. 

But even on the ordinary acceptation of our 
Lord's command above mentioned, it would be a 
very different thing to the Apostles to what it 
would be to one in our present conditions of life 
and society, or to a Western going to the Orient. 
There is to-day very little cash in circulation in 
Palestine, and the same probably held good of our 

* A comparison of the few passages in the New Testament 
where the word Krao/ occurs shows that it always has the 
meaning of ' acquire , or ' obtain. 1 



Lord's time. This is due to a variety of causes : 
it is owing partly to the custom, which obtains 
largely in the East, of hoarding coin ; and partly 
to the fact that comparatively little money is 
coined. The want of it is, moreover, not felt 
nearly so keenly as it would be in Europe. A 
man may have vineyards and oliveyards, goats and 
sheep, several yoke of oxen, a good stock of wheat, 
oil, and dried figs, all he needs, in fact, for his daily 
wants, and withal have little or no ready money. 
Thus, for one to say, as St. Peter did to the lame 
man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, ' Silver 
and gold have I none ' (Acts iii. 6), would not 
necessarily imply abject poverty. It would also 
be in fullest accord, at the present time, with the 
condition of one such as the same Apostle, to have 
no ready money, either with him or in his house, 
with which to pay the Temple tax of the half- 
shekel (St. Matt. xvii. 24-27). To-day numbers of 
people in Palestine go long journeys with little or 
no money, and find hardly any difficulty, and see 
no hardship in so doing. 

Not long ago I was travelling east of the Jordan, 
and on arriving at the bridge over that river, below 
Jericho, found it blocked by a large caravan from 
Moab, on its way to Jerusalem ; the reason of the 
delay being that the owners of the caravan could 
not muster enough money among them to pay the 
small tax for crossing the bridge, and finally had 
to leave some articles in pledge with the custodian, 
to be redeemed on their return after the sale oi 
their merchandise in the Holy City. 


The village mosques, or Mohammedan places of 
worship, are for the most part miserable buildings, 
dark and dirty, with nothing whatever in their 
outward appearance to show that they are sacred 
edifices. They are absolutely devoid of furniture, 
unless this name can be applied to a few straw 
mats rolled up and put away in a corner till 
required. They may have a Mihrdb, or small 
apse-like niche, indicating the Kibleh, or direction 
of Mecca, towards which all Mohammedans turn 
their faces at prayer ; but this is infrequent. 
Occasionally in the larger villages a more preten- 
tious building may be seen, and one kept in better 
order, with now and then a Mcdaneh, the well- 
known chimney - like tower from which the 
Muezzin calls to prayer five times a day.* Some 
of these mosques (and many of those in the towns) 
have been Christian churches in bygone years. 
Usually the mosque, whether large or small, has a 
courtyard, shaded by one or more spreading trees, 
and in this courtyard during the greater part of 
the year the Moslems say their prayers, the village 
school is held, and the elders of the hamlet receive 
their guests ; for the same building is very often 
both guest-house and mosque in one, and the guests 
eat and sleep in it or in the courtyard outside, 
according to the season of the year. 

It has often been remarked that Islam is a creed 

* The Arabic term ' Minaret, -1 which has practically become 
an English word, and is always used to designate these towers 
or steeples, is, as thus employed, quite incorrect, its real 
meaning being a ' lighthouse.* 1 


without a sacrifice for sin. As far as Mohammedan 
theology is concerned, this is, I believe, correct. 
In Palestine, however, the yearly sacrifice of the 
DthaMyeh, which is offered at the same time as the 
Hajj (pilgrims to Mecca) are slaying the victims 
at Mount 'Arafat, is regarded by the Moslem 
peasants as a Kifdrah — that is, a satisfaction for 
their sins. In some villages, moreover, they put 
the blood of this sacrifice on the doorposts and 
upper lintels of their houses. In one village near 
Jerusalem I have seen many houses with the blood 
thus sprinkled on the doorposts, while some had 
in addition two of the victim's feet stuck in a hole 
in the door, these being left the whole year till the 
next feast comes round. 

In two or three mixed hamlets (Moslems and 
Christians) with which I am acquainted, the Chris- 
tians, either just before Lent or at Easter, kill a 
goat or sheep, and put the blood on the upper 
lintel in the form of a cross, and on the side-posts 
in spots. These villages are all situated in the 
district known as that of the Beni Zeid, whose 
Moslem inhabitants always observe this custom at 
the feast of the Dthahiych, as described above. 
The custom seems to be a very local one, but 
whether it has been derived by the Moslems from 
the Christians or vice versa I cannot say. 

In addition to this feast, several religious seasons 
or festivals are observed by the Moslems with more 
or less strictness. The most noteworthy of these 
is Ramadthan, or the month of fasting. In some 
respects it is a misuse of words to call this period 


one of fasting, as in the case of the well-to-do 
Mohammedans they simply turn night into day, 
and throughout the month have a nightly feast on 
the daintiest dishes that Arab cookery can devise. 
With the poorer classes, but especially with the 
Fellahin, the case is very different. The Koran 
directs that during Ramadthan neither meat nor 
drink shall pass the Moslem's lips from the time 
that it becomes light enough to distinguish between 
a white thread and a black one, until sunset. 

The Fellahin are, for the most part, very strict 
in their observance of this fast (much more so, 
indeed, than the townspeople), and when this 
month falls in the hot season, when the days are 
at the longest and the nights at the shortest, it is 
a very heavy burden to them. More particularly 
is this true of the prohibition to drink water, 
especially in harvest-time or when there is other 
hard labour to be undergone. In Jerusalem and 
other towns a cannon is fired at sunset, announcing 
to all the country round that the hour for food has 
come. I was once riding home to Jerusalem at 
the beginning of summer during Ramadthan. A 
shower of rain had fallen earlier in the day, and 
there were puddles in the road. Just at sunset I 
met some young men — Moslems — returning to 
their homes from their work in the city. As I 
came up with them the boom of the sunset gun 
was borne on the breeze from Jerusalem. Instantly 
one of them threw himself on his face on the 
ground and drank with feverish eagerness from a 
puddle by the wayside. 


In the spring, about Easter, occurs the Moslem 
feast of Neby Musa, or the prophet Moses, which is 
largely attended by the Fellahin from the district 
round Jerusalem and other parts of the country. It 
is a purely local feast, and is said to have been 
instituted as a kind of counter-demonstration to 
the gathering of Christian pilgrims from foreign 
countries at Jerusalem during Holy Week. 

The feast lasts seven days, in the course of which 
the pilgrims visit the reputed tomb of Moses, which 
Moslem tradition places west of the Jordan, on the 
foot-hills in the Ghor, about an hour and a half 
outh-west of Jericho. There are large buildings 
at the tomb for the accommodation of those who 
visit the shrine during the feast, thousands going 
there every year. The Fellahin come up to Jeru- 
salem in numbers from all the villages for many 
miles round, dressed in their best. Each company 
has one or more banners of red or green silk, 
embroidered with passages from the Koran, and is 
accompanied by the sound of cymbals and drums. 
They gather in Jerusalem some time before the 
feast, many of them being lodged in the Haram 
and its numerous buildings. On the opening day 
of the festival a great service is held in the Mosque 
of Omar, which building the Arabs call ' The Dome 
of the Rock.' This ceremony is attended by the 
Governor of Jerusalem and all the great officials, 
civil and military, and at its conclusion a long pro- 
cession starts for Neby Musa with banners flying, 
drums beating, cymbals clashing, guns firing, and 
all the noise so dear to an Eastern's heart. Both 

A WELY 25 

children and adults look forward to it as the one 
great holiday of the year. 

Another local feast is that of Rubin, a famous 
AVely in the maritime plain near the sea, and about 
two and a half hours south of Jaffa. The people 
encamp round the shrine in thousands, remaining 
for several days. These and similar gatherings are 
fruitful of disease. The herding together of great 
crowds in a small area, amidst insanitary surround- 
ings, with often a scanty or polluted water-supply, 
is a frequent originator of epidemics, which are 
carried by the returning pilgrims to their own 

The traveller in Palestine will often see a little 
clump of trees with the white dome of a low stone 
building peeping out of the dark-green foliage, and 
on inquiring what it is will be told that it is a Weiy, 
or saint — that is, his reputed tomb. These build- 
ings are usually, though not invariably, on the 
tops of hills, and can be seen for many miles round, 
some of them, indeed, forming landmarks for a 
great distance. Who these Ouliah were is for the 
most part lost in obscurity ; but the real explana- 
tion is that they mark the site of some of the 
old Canaanitish high places, which we know, from 
many passages in the Old Testament, were not all 
destroyed by the Israelites when they took posses- 
sion of the land, becoming in subsequent ages a 
frequent cause of sin to them. 

There is generally, but not always, a grove ot 
trees round the Wely. The oak is the kind most 
commonly found in these groves at the present 


day, as would appear to have been also the case ill 
Bible times, especially in the hill country. Besides 
the oak — which is invariably the evergreen kind, 
and not the deciduous species of our English 
woods — the terebinth, tamarisk, sidr, or nubk (the 
Zizjiphiis-sp'uia-CJiristi, sometimes called Dom by 
Europeans), and other trees, are to be seen as well. 
Occasionally the grove is represented by one large 
solitary tree under whose shade the Wely nestles. 

The shrine itself usually consists of a plain stone 
building, for the most part windowless, but having 
a Mikrdb, or prayer-niche. It is kept in fair repair 
as a rule, and whitewashed from time to time 
both inside and out. Occasionally a grave is to 
be found inside, under the dome, an ugly erection 
of stone plastered over, about 3 feet high, and 
frequently of abnormal length ; that of the so-called 
grave of Joshua, near Es Salt, east of the Jordan. 
is over 30 feet in length. 

Occasionally there is no building over the tomb, 
and in such case, where it is one of great sanctity, 
the most extraordinary collection imaginable of odds 
and ends is to be found on and around the grave, 
having been placed there by way of honouring the 
dead saint, and of claiming his intercession at the 
Day of Judgment on behalf of those who have 
thus reverenced his memory on earth. The most 
striking instance I have seen of this latter kind of 
Wely was the so-called tomb of Noah at Kerak, 
the ancient Kir of Moab, before the present con- 
ventional building was erected over it. The 
accompanying illustration gives some idea of its 




To face page 27. 


former condition, and of the marvellous assortment 
of old clay lamps, bits of broken glass, coloured 
rags, sticks, bones, and miscellaneous articles of 
every description, which had been deposited there 
by the votaries of the prophet. With the same 
idea many tie pieces of rag to the boughs of trees 
growing around a Wely, or, where there is no tree, 
to the bars of the windows (if there be one) of the 

The Moslems stand in great awe of these saints, 
especially of the more famous of them, and often 
really fear them more than they fear God. Thus, 
they fully believe that should they swear by one 
of these shrines to do, or not to do, any certain 
thing, and should be false to their oath, some 
fearful calamity would overtake them, whereas to 
break a promise made in the name of the Almighty 
they consider to be a far less serious matter. With 
the same idea ploughs and other agricultural imple- 
ments, bundles of firewood, and other articles, are 
often left under the shadow of one of the trees of a 
Wely, or within a considerable radius of the shrine. 
The accompanying illustration shows a number 
of ploughs round such a tomb in the Jebel Ajlun 
far away from any village or human habitation. 
Things so left are quite safe, as they are considered 
to be under the protection of the saint ; and should 
anyone dare to steal any of them, the Wely would 
speedily avenge the insult done to his name and 
shrine by some condign punishment. 

In a few cases there is neither tomb nor grave, 
but only a sacred tree which tradition, handed 


down from father to son, declares to be the site of 
some Wely, and which is reverenced accordingly. 
The Mohammedans consider it unlawful to use the 
branches of these trees for fuel, believing that were 
they to do so the curse of the saint would rest 
upon them ; and it is very remarkable, in a country 
where firewood is so scarce, to see huge boughs 
fallen from these sacred trees lying rotting on the 
ground. In one case only will the Moslems use 
such wood as fuel, and that is when, as is 
occasionally done, they make a feast at the Wely 
in the saint's honour. 

The Christian peasants are not so scrupulous, 
and do sometimes employ the fallen wood sur- 
reptitiously, for domestic purposes. 

On Thursday evenings, the day on which the 
Mohammedans visit the graves of their dead, little 
oil-lamps are often lit in the Welys in honour of the 
saints buried there. Some even of the Christian 
women, in the more ignorant and out-of-the-way 
villages, observe this custom. 

Travelling about the country one often sees by 
the wayside little piles of stones a foot or eighteen 
inches high, formed of single stones, sometimes to 
the number of five or six, dexterously poised one 
on the top of another. These miniature pillars are 
in honour of some famous Wely, and are usually 
found at the point where it first becomes visible, or 
from which a specially good view of it can be 
obtained. As instances of these Kanatir, as they 
are called, may be mentioned those a little above 
Bethel, where, on approaching from the north, the 
first distant view of Jerusalem is obtained ; and 


IT* '^fes? 

. 3 

$ V 

To fact oage 28. 


those below Jericho, about two-thirds of the way 
to the bridge over the Jordan at a spot whence the 
Moslem shrine of Neby Musa can be seen. # The 
idea of these pillars, as with the other modes of 
honouring the dead saint or prophet, is to obtain 
his intercession on the Day of Judgment. 

In connection with this subject, it is noteworthy 
that the idea of intercession, whether of dead saints 
or of the living, is one deeply rooted in the minds 
of the people of Palestine. Thus, if they wish to 
ask a favour from a superior, they infinitely prefer 
to get a third person to intercede for them, to 
going themselves directly to the one who can grant 
their request. They find it very difficult to believe 
that, for instance, an English medical man in 
charge of a hospital will do his best for a patient, 
unless the latter bring with him a letter of recom- 
mendation from some mutual friend begging the 
doctor to use all his skill for that particular case. 
Many do bring such letters with them, to the great 
annoyance, sometimes, of the European doctor, 
especially if he be new to the country and unaware 
of this trait of the native character. 

A very strong belief in El Kadr, or fate, exists 
among the Fellahin. This is, of course, essentially 
a Mohammedan doctrine, but the Christians — that 
is to say, the more ignorant ones among them — 
are largely influenced by it. The orthodox Moslem 
holds that all the incidents of a man's life are pre- 

* These are not by any means the best specimens of these 
pillars to be found. They are mentioned here as being those 
most likely to be noticed by travellers. The best I have seen 
are on much more unfrequented roads. 


determined in the eternal decree of God, being 
written, though invisibly to human eye, on the 
forehead of each individual. Such a belief if 
followed to its logical conclusion would, of course, 
be destructive of all civil government by reducing 
men to mere automata, doing only what they had 
been before ordained to accomplish, whether good 
or bad, and mechanically carrying out a prescribed 
set of actions, thus depriving them of all true per- 
sonalit} 7 and moral responsibility. But the Oriental 
mind is not a logical one, and as a matter of fact, 
while holding this belief, a man will admit, if 
pressed, his own responsibility for his good and 
bad deeds, much as the average Western. This 
may be illustrated by one of their proverbs which 
runs : ' Don't throw your child from the roof, and 
say " Inevitable fate." ' 

In practice this doctrine, coupled with a general 
tendency to take things easily, causes both Moslems 
and Christians to be very lax about precautions of 
any kind. Thus, roads along the edge of precipices 
are often left without any protecting wall on the 
outer side, or with only one of the flimsiest descrip- 
tion ; houses, whose roofs are used almost as much 
as any part of them, are built without parapets ; in 
times of epidemics the simplest and most ordinary 
precautions are neglected altogether, or, if begun, 
are quickly dropped. I have known more than one 
case where an intelligent man has built a house 
without a parapet round the roof, and, when one of 
the children was killed by a fall from it, to have 
merely remarked, • Such was the will of God.' 

FATE 31 

The following story, which has given rise to one 
of their proverbs (a story which probably has its 
parallel in the literature of most countries), is told 
by way of illustration of fate : 

There was once a certain widow who had an 
only son, to whom she was devotedly attached. 
One summer the cholera broke out in the village 
where they lived. The mother, fearful lest her son 
should be stricken, resolved to keep him shut up in 
her house so long as the epidemic lasted. Accord- 
ingly, she fitted up a recess in one of her rooms 
very comfortably, and carefully closed it in. Here 
she put her son, and waited on him most 
assiduously, hoping thus to keep him from infec- 
tion. One day, when the grapes began to ripen, 
she went to the vineyard and gathered several 
bunches, which she brought to her son. Hidden 
in one of them was a small venomous snake, which 
bit the boy as he was eating the fruit, and in a few 
minutes he died. After a while the mother, coming 
to the recess, found her son dead, whereupon she 
broke forth in the following lines : 

1 What God had decreed has happened indeed. 
In casket concealed; thy fate unrepealed, 
In vain would I hide thee : death must betide thee/ 

The doctrine of T/iozvivab, or merit, is widely held 
by Moslems in Palestine. They believe that after 
death a man's good and evil deeds are weighed 
against each other, and that his future condition 
for eternity will be according as the one or the 
other preponderates. Anything, therefore, like 


almsgiving, repeating the ninety-nine names of 
God, works of supererogation (such, for example, 
as praying more than the five appointed times in 
the day), making the pilgrimage to Mecca more 
than once, etc., are all considered to add to a mans 
chances of salvation or to affect his relative posi- 
tion in the world to come. I have several times 
heard Moslems thus account for the work of Chris- 
tian medical missions and deeds of charity towards 
non-Christians, things which otherwise are utterly 
inexplicable to them, but which on the ground 
of accumulating merit are, they think, easily 
accounted for. 

It is considered a meritorious action to put 
drinking water by the wayside for thirsty passers- 
by. In the plains, cisterns fed from deep wells by 
means of water-wheels are much used for irriga- 
tion ; if near the edge of the road, these cisterns 
will usually have a tap for the use of travellers, 
with a trough below, so that both men and beasts 
can quench their thirst. One year, when the winter 
rainfall had been very scanty and the wayside 
springs near Bethel had dried up, the people of 
that village built a little hut by the road, in which 
they placed a large jar of water for the use of the 
passers-by, the jar being continually replenished 
throughout the long dry summer. 

Usually classed with Mohammedans by Western 
writers, but in reality quite distinct from them, are 
the Druzes. They are found on Carmel and 
scattered about Northern Palestine, but their 
strongholds are the Lebanon and the Hauran (the 


ancient Bashan), especially that part of the latter 
known as the Jebel ed Druze. Their religion is 
essentially an esoteric one, it being of its very 
essence to conceal its real doctrines from every 
outsider, of whatever creed. In conversation with 
a Moslem they profess to accept the Koran, and 
claim that in all fundamental matters of doctrine 
and practice they are one with the followers of 
Mohammed ; but to a Christian, on the other 
hand, they would say that there is no practical 
difference between themselves and the Nusareh. 

The great majority of them, however, are prob- 
ably in complete ignorance as to the real tenets of 
their own faith, these being only known to the 
small inner circle of ' Initiated ' or ' Wise ' ( Ulema, 
as they are called), the great bulk of them being 
'Uninitiated' or 'Ignorant' {Juhaleh). Women 
may be, and are, admitted into the inner circle of 
* Wise,' but so fearful are they of their secrets being 
revealed that such women are not allowed to bring 
their infants with them to their religious gatherings 
after the latter are about a year old. These gather- 
ings are held in a building called KJialwah (a word 
meaning isolated or retired), a plain, unadorned 
structure in some lonely spot, far from any human 
habitation. The only thing that to an outsider 
distinguishes the ' Initiated ' from the ' Uninitiated ' 
is that, while in common with Moslems both 
abstain from the use of alcohol, the former also 
never drink coffee nor smoke tobacco, whereas the 
latter are allowed to do both. 

Little or nothing is known with certainty about 


the doctrines or practices of the Druze religion. It 
is generally said, and I believe correctly, that they 
hold the doctrine of the transmigration of souls, 
but that is about the most that can be at all con- 
fidently affirmed.* 

* One or two things I have quite accidentally ascertained 
point to the possibility of the Druze worship being a survival 
of the Israelitish calf cult. I mention this with great diffi- 
dence, and only as a possible hint to students. 

V -J* 

r*\ I 


religion {continued) 

The Christians, who, next to the Moslems, are the 
most numerous of the religious bodies found in 
Syria at the present day, are the successors of 
those who lived in Palestine at the time of the 
Mohammedan conquest at the close of the seventh 
century a.d. When the Holy Land fell before the 
sword of Khalid and the other Moslem generals, a 
considerable section of the population sooner or 
later embraced Islam ; but a by no means in- 
significant number refused to give up the faith of 
their fathers. Their descendants for generation 
after generation, spite of almost every conceivable 
inducement to renounce Christianity, notwith- 
standing nearly every indignity, civil, social, and 
religious, which a fanatical ingenuity could devise, 
although treated as scarcely human, and their lives 
held to be worth less than those of the cattle, yet 
clung with an intense, if often blind and ignorant, 
tenacity to what they believed to be the religion 
of Jesus Christ. Erroneous as much of that belief 
was and is, low, too, as they have sunk as far as all 
spiritual life is concerned, we cannot but honour 

35 3—2 


them for what they have borne for their faith in 
the past, and seek to help them now to rise to a 
purer conception and a fuller knowledge of what 
that faith really is. 

It is difficult, even for those familiar with the 
East, to realize now the extent to which Christians 
were formerly made to feel their inferiority to 
Moslems. None but Moslems, for instance, were 
allowed to wear any article of clothing of a green 
colour, that being the sacred hue of Islam, or 
even to use for that purpose material having 
anything of that colour in it. I have known of a 
case where four men savagely assaulted a Christian 
in whose Kumbaz, or long loose robe, they detected 
a minute thread of green. In the large towns 
Christians were not allowed on the side-walks, but 
had to keep to the centre of the street with the 
donkeys and other beasts of burden. In any place 
of public resort, such as a cafe, should a Christian 
inadvertently sit down on the right hand of a 
Moslem, he was instantly greeted w T ith shouts of 
' Ishmalya JVusrdni ' (Go to the left, you Nazarene !). 
His evidence was absolutely inadmissible in a court 
of law, however much he might be respected even 
by his Moslem fellow-citizens. Within the memory 
of some still living, the written permission, which 
had (in towns at least) to be obtained from the 
local Kadi, or magistrate, before the body of a 
deceased Christian could be buried, was couched in 
the following terms : 

' I, So-and-so, give permission for the burial of 
the unbeliever So-and-so, son of So-and-so, the 


damned, lest the smell of his corpse should injure a 

It is not to be wondered if, in such circum- 
stances, the bitterest feelings were cherished 
towards the Moslems. Scorn was repaid with 
scorn. Even now, though in the last fifty years 
matters have wonderfully altered for the better, 
much of the old feeling still remains, and in 
particular any attempt to win the Moslems to the 
faith of Christ is, by many of the native Christians, 
looked upon as casting pearls before swine. 

Throughout Palestine proper the great majority 
of the Christians belong to the Orthodox Greek 
Church, which is probably the lineal descendant, as 
far as any community can be said to be such, of 
the local body of Christians of the first century. 
Some, however, I believe, consider the Syrian or 
Jacobite to be the true National Church of the 
Holy Land. The Orthodox Greeks are very 
exclusive, refusing not only to recognise the Orders 
of any other Christian community as valid, but 
also declining to admit their baptism as even lay 
baptism. I have been assured that should anyone 
wish to join them from any, even of the other 
Oriental communions, they would insist on rebap- 
tism by a Greek priest. 

In the Lebanon most of the Christian peasantry 
belong to the Maronite community. This is a 
distinct Church, with its own ritual, festivals, 
calendar of saints, Orders, etc., but in communion 
with the Church of Rome. 

In a few places Armenians are to be found. In 


doctrine they are Monophysites, but in other 
respects there is not much difference between them 
and the Orthodox Greeks. Indeed, their Church 
is in Palestine really a foreign one, consisting of 
congregations of the National Church of Armenia, 
the members being Armenians by race, and the 
services conducted in that language. They are 
distinguished from the other Churches in Palestine 
in the time of their celebration of Christmas. They 
keep this feast on the same day as that of the 
Epiphany and our Lord's baptism. In common 
with both Eastern and Western Christendom, they 
assign January 6 as the date of these two festivals, 
and, interpreting St. Luke iii. 22, 23, to mean that 
the Saviour was baptized on His birthday, they con- 
sequently keep that day as the Feast of the Nativity. 
In addition to the Greek Orthodox Church there 
is the so-called Greek Catholic Community, a body 
which has split off from the former, and which is 
regarded by them as unorthodox and schismatical. 
They acknowledge the supremacy of the Pope as 
Head of the Church on earth, while retaining the dis- 
tinctive rites and ceremonies of the Greek Church.* 

* Besides the Greek Catholics, there are Armenian 
Catholics, Syrian Catholics, etc. These bodies are some- 
times known as the ' Uniat Churches, 1 and are of compara- 
tively recent origin. Wherever the term ' Greek ' is used in 
this book, it is, unless the contrary be expressly mentioned, to 
be understood of creed, and not of race. It is unfortunate 
that there is no recognised term in English for members of 
the Greek Church as distinguished from those of the Hellenic- 
race. In Arabic there is no such ambiguity, the former 
being known as Rum, and the latter as Yiindn. 


Besides the Oriental Churches, there is the Roman 
(or Latin, as it is called in the Levant) Church, 
which has in recent times established monastic 
houses, built churches, and gathered congregations 
drawn from these Eastern communions. All their 
distinctive characteristics are of Western origin, 
and therefore do not call for detailed notice in a 
work dealing specially with Oriental Churches and 

There exist also a number of Protestant con- 
gregations, chiefly in connection with the Church 
Missionary Society of the Church of England. 
These congregations, though not large, relatively 
to those of some other Churches, yet exert a very 
considerable influence for good in the country, an 
influence much beyond that which their numbers 
would account for, and which is none the less real 
because it is often indirect. 

In connection with the Greek Church in 
Palestine there is a large body of foreign ecclesi- 
astics, who monopolize all the more important 
posts to the exclusion of native clergy. These 
foreigners are Greek by nationality, often knowing 
little or nothing of Arabic, the vernacular of the 
country. The monks at the present time are 
entirely Hellenic, and will not admit a native of 
the country among their number. The reason of 
this exclusiveness is that the higher Orders of the 
clergy are drawn from the ranks of the monastic 
Orders only. These foreign ecclesiastics con- 
sequently exclude the natives for the purpose of 
retaining the power and control of the Church in 


their own hands. As is inevitable in such a case, 
there is but little sympathy between the two bodies 
of clergy, a fact which lias worked disastrously, 
and is so working, for the welfare of the Greek 
Church in Palestine. 

The village priests are for the most part natives 
of the country, and very frequently of the place 
where they minister. In the larger villages, how- 
ever, where there are several priests, there is usually 
an Hellenic ecclesiastic over them, who is called 
Rels, or Superior. He is a monk, and may be, and, 
indeed, not infrequently is, not in full Orders, and 
consequently ecclesiastically inferior to the men 
over whom he rules. 

The Greek clergy, unlike those of the Roman 
Church and of the so-called Catholic branches of 
the Oriental Churches, are allowed to marry, but 
should a priest's wife predecease him he is not 
permitted to marry again. The monks must all 
be celibates, and also the higher clergy. 

The incomes of the village priests are small, and 
they receive them but irregularly. Their salaries, 
such as they are, are paid by the Patriarch in 
whose province they live, out of the revenue of 
the patriarchate, these revenues in the case of 
the Jerusalem patriarchate, which includes all 
Palestine, being very large. One priest, with 
whom I am personally acquainted, has a salary of 
eighteen shillings a month, which would be an 
average stipend in a small village ; in the larger 
villages they receive proportionally more. This 
particular priest, as is often the case, lives in his 


pi"jf -10. 


native place, and has house, land, olives, etc., of 
his own ; consequently whatever he receives as 
priest is in addition to what he has as an ordinary 
peasant. This renders him comfortably off, as 
comfort is reckoned in the East. In addition to 
the salary attached to the post, a Greek cleric 
receives fees from his flock at baptisms, weddings, 
and on other occasions ; and should a sick person 
send for him, he expects to be paid for the visit, a 
bishlik (5^d.) being the usual sum ! 

As a body the clergy are for the most part very 
ignorant. There is no middle class from which to 
draw them ; consequently they are of the same 
social position as the humblest of their flock, and 
at times inferior to many of them in education. 
One highly respectable old priest, whom I have 
known for many years, has more than once told me 
that all the education he ever had was six months 
at school, that he was then set to herd the cattle, 
and from this occupation was taken to be ordained. 
Such men, of course, never preach ; indeed, preaching 
is almost unknown in the village places of worship, 
all that is expected of the clergy being limited, 
practically, to reading through the services. Not- 
withstanding these facts, the priests are treated 
with the greatest reverence by their people, not 
on account of their personal character, which, sad 
to say, in too many cases will not bear close 
inspection, but because of their office. 

The dress of the Greek priests consists of a long 
black garment like a cassock, with a leathern belt 
round the waist, a black outer robe with full sleeves, 


resembling a preacher's gown, and a tall black 
cylindrical hat, with a rim round the top. This 
rim distinguishes those who are in full Orders from 
the monks and others who have not yet attained to 
the priesthood. All Greek ecclesiastics, of what- 
ever Order they may be, wear their hair long, this 
custom being taken from the law of the Nazarites 
(Num. vi. 5). It seems very curious at first to a 
Western to see these men with great masses of 
hair like a woman's. Formerly, instead of the 
cylindrical hat, a fez with a dark blue turban, 
similar to that still worn by the Coptic priests in 
Egypt, was the clerical headdress. This latter 
was, however, a badge of servitude imposed upon 
the Christians by their Mohammedan conquerors, 
and, with the waning power of the Turk, it has 
gone the way of other tokens of social inferiority. 
The higher clergy, when making a state call or 
when desirous of showing special respect to the 
person to whom a visit is made, put over the hat a 
long black veil, which flows down the back of the 
wearer nearly to the waist. 

Infant baptism is the invariable rule in the Greek 
Church, and is always by trine immersion. It is 
followed by the chrism, both being administered at 
the same service. This latter rite is held by the 
Oriental Churches to be the equivalent of the 
confirmation of Western Christendom. It is 
customary, as with us, to have sponsors, and 
commonly the same persons will stand as god- 
parents for all the children of a family. This is 
held to constitute a relationship, and to be within 


the prohibited degrees of the Greek Church, so 
that the children of godparents may not intermarry 
with the latter 's godchildren. 

Some of the Greek churches are very ancient 
or on ancient foundations. Externally they are 
as a rule dreary, uncared-for-looking buildings, and 
inside they appear to be utterly neglected, and are 
too often far from clean. There are no pews, the 
congregation standing during the services, and, as 
these are very long, stout sticks with long cross- 
pieces at the top, like huge crutches, are provided 
for the people to lean on when they become weary. 

A curious ceremony takes place at the consecra- 
tion of a Greek church. Both the Patriarch of the 
province and the Bishop of the diocese in which 
the church is situated take part in the service. 
They bring with them a piece of a bone of a saint. 
This they proceed to boil in olive-oil in the church. 
The Bishop, wearing a white silk surplice, having 
completed the cooking of the relic with spices, 
takes a long reed with a sponge on the top, and, 
dipping it in the holy oil, makes the sign of the 
cross therewith on the roof, walls, etc., all round 
the building. Special prayers follow. These ended, 
he takes off his silk surplice and puts on another. 
After more prayers, appropriate to the occasion, 
he proceeds to say Mass. This ended, he takes the 
rest of the oil and the vessel (which must be a new 
one), and deposits it in some spot where it will be 
out of ordinary reach, as it is sacred. Finally the 
Bishop tears his silk surplice into small pieces, 
which he distributes among the congregation as a 


blessing, the reason of this being that, as some of 
the holy oil has fallen on it, he may not wear it 

For twelve hundred years after the Moham- 
medan conquest of Palestine the Christian churches 
were not allowed to have bells, the Moslems 
believing that they collect the evil spirits. As a 
substitute, bars of bronze, or some similar material, 
were used. These bars were suspended from a 
wooden frame, and when struck with a heavy 
mallet emitted a deep musical note, which could 
be heard to a considerable distance. In some few 
places, as, for example, the Armenian monastery 
in Jerusalem and the well-known Greek convent 
of Mar Saba in the Wady en Nar, these old bronze 
gongs may still be seen. Within the last century 
Christians have been allowed the use of bells, a 
concession which is looked upon by some of the 
stricter Moslems as a sad proof of the decadence of 
their faith. 

Scattered up and down the country are large 
monasteries of the Greek Church. Usually they 
are to be found in lonely places, such as that of 
Mar Saba just mentioned, Mar Girius (St. George) 
in the Wady Kelt, the famous Convent of the 
Cross, west of Jerusalem, that on Mount Tabor, 
and many others. They are strongly built, and 
in outward appearance more like fortresses than 
religious houses, having been used in former times 
by the Christians as places of refuge when danger 
threatened. Though the need for them as such 
has now happily passed away, at any rate for the 


present, they are eloquent witnesses to the risks 
which Christians had to run in days not long 
gone by. 

Of the Christian festivals, perhaps the most note- 
worthy — at any rate from a Western point of view 
— is the ceremony of the Holy Fire (or Holy 
Light, to give it its true name), which takes place 
in Jerusalem, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, 
on the Greek Easter Eve. The people are taught 
that this ' Fire ' or 'Light' is miraculously produced 
each year, on that day, in the Lord's tomb, and 
great crowds come up to the Holy City to witness 
the ceremony. Candles or tapers lit from the 
sacred flame convey the light to the Christian 
villages within a good many miles of Jerusalem. 
These candles are, as soon as lit, rapidly passed to 
groups of men who are eagerly awaiting them 
outside the Church of the Sepulchre, and who 
immediately hurry off with the precious charge to 
their respective villages. It is esteemed a great 
honour to be allowed to carry this light, and in 
some cases certain families have the monopoly of 
the privilege, a monopoly which sometimes leads 
to rights between the bearers of the Holy Fire 
and people of other families who are desirous of 
obtaining the honour for themselves. In the 
villages, as the time gets near for the cavalcade to 
appear, people go out to some eminence near to 
watch the road from Jerusalem for the first in- 
dications of its approach, and any horseman riding 
by is eagerly questioned, ' Is the Light coining ?' 
1 Have you seen the Light ?' Ere long, in the 


distance, is descried the little group of men carrying 
the precious flame, carefully screened from the 
wind. The shouts of the watchers send the news 
to the village, a solemn procession is formed, the 
Greek priests, in gorgeous vestments, go forth to 
meet the Light, and conduct it, accompanied by 
clouds of incense, amid all the noise and uproar 
inseparable from an Oriental procession, and with 
attendant crowds, to the church, where a service is 
held in honour of its arrival. 

At Eastertide the Christians dye eggs in com- 
memoration of the feast. Red is the colour 
ordinarily employed. The origin and meaning of 
the custom seems to be quite unknown to them, 
and the only reply I have ever been able to elicit 
in response to my inquiries — a reply perfectly satis- 
factory to an Eastern — is, ' Such is the custom.' 
The dyeing is effected by wrapping the egg in silk 
of the desired colour, and then boiling it, when the 
shell takes up the colour from the material. At 
Bethlehem the mother-o '-pearl workers dye eggs 
of a brown tint, and then very deftly etch some 
sacred design on them, removing with a sharp- 
pointed tool the thin coloured film, without, how- 
ever, cutting through the eggshell. The children 
play a game with these Easter eggs. Two of them 
take an egg apiece, and each tries to crush in the 
end of the other's egg without cracking his own, 
■and he who succeeds in accomplishing this feat 
keeps both eggs. 

The Mohammedans have adopted this custom 
from the Christians, and at the feast of Neby Miisa 


(which, as mentioned in the previous chapter, takes 
place about the time of the Greek Easter) dye 
eggs of a bright yellow. At the New Year, at 
all great Church festivals, and at the beginning of 
every month, the Greek priests go round to the 
houses of all their flock and bless them. A vessel 
of holy water is carried by an attendant, and the 
priest sprinkles some of it on the house, at the 
same time saying, ' Save, Lord, Thy people, and 
bless Thine inheritance : grant our kings victory 
over the barbarians, and preserve by the power of 
Thy cross all who trust in Thee.' In return for this 
ceremony the householder gives the priest some 
trifling present — a handful of wheat, some dried 
figs, a few eggs, or anything else that comes to 

The Greeks, as a rule, observe the fast of Lent 
very strictly. They make a great point of eating 
olive-oil then ; indeed, with the more ignorant ones 
this is the essential thing : without its use Lent 
would not be Lent for them. Olive-oil is used by 
all in their cooking, butter and other animal fats 
being strictly forbidden to them during that period. 

There are many other fasts, and as a rule they 
are rigorously observed, especially those which 
occur before the great Church festivals. The days 
on which the fasts begin and terminate, together 
with the various saints' days, are announced each 
week by the priests in the churches on the previous 

Superstitions of all kinds abound among the 
Christians as well as among the Mohammedans. 


Thus, if a child be ill, or long in walking through 
weakness, the parents will go round to the neigh- 
bours and beg some trifling thing from each house, 
as a fig, a piece of bread, an onion, or even an egg- 
shell or other worthless article. These they proceed 
to bury in a dung-heap, afterwards firing a gun 
over it, when they believe that the disease, or the 
spirit causing it, will leave the child. If a man be 
suffering from sciatica, an old woman, who must 
be past a certain age, has to go alone out of the 
little village and search for a kind of shrub known 
as Shabrikeh, a low, tough, thorny plant, a favourite 
food of camels. Having found one, she must, 
without uprooting it, so pull and twist it that the 
stem and roots become quite flexible ; she must 
then place a stone on the plant and return to the 
village by a different way to that by which she 
quitted it, and the patient will be cured ! 

In a certain village in the Jebel-el-Kuds, if an 
ox, cow, sheep, or goat be lost, someone takes a 
Bible and reads aloud the twenty-third Psalm. As 
he utters the last word, another person shuts up a 
knife, razor, or dagger, which he has held open for 
the purpose : the knife, etc., must remain closed till 
the lost animal be found ; otherwise it will be eaten 
by wild beasts ! 

The natives of Palestine are much afraid of the 
evil-eye. Blue or gray eyes are popularly supposed 
to be specially virulent and powerful, and are often 
thought to be capable of seeing into the ground, 
and detecting the hidden treasures which are 
popularly believed to be buried in all ruins. It is 


considered most unlucky, especially by Moslems, 
to express praise or admiration of a child or animal, 
some untoward event being, in their opinion, sure 
to follow. The usual expression in lieu of praise 
or admiration is ' Mashallah ' — literally, ' What 
God wills '; and a fond father or mother will be 
as gratified at this as English parents at the 
warmest eulogium on their children. 

The people seek to counteract or ward off the 
effects of the evil-eye by means of various things 
hung round the necks of children and animals, or 
in the former case fastened to the Tarbush, as the 
fez, or red cap, is called. These charms usually 
take the form of blue beads, discs of blue glass 
with white centres, in the middle of which is a 
black dot (the whole forming a rude representation 
of a human eye), or little bits of the same coloured 
material roughly fashioned to resemble a hand. 
This latter charm is supposed to represent ' the 
Hand of Might,' or the protecting power of God 
on the person. The colour is blue, from the idea, 
as mentioned above, that eyes of that hue have 
special power to injure both men and animals. In 
the case of new houses, the skull of some animal, 
with a few blue beads, is often hung over the door- 
way with the same object. 

If anyone is believed to have been injured by 
the evil-eye, in order to ascertain who the in- 
dividual may be who has done the harm, they take 
lumps of alum and heat them over the fire, care- 
fully watching them the while. As the lumps 
break up under the influence of the heat, they 



believe that in one or other of them they will see, 
and be able to recognise, the eye of the person who 
has cast the evil spell on them, and that the spell 
will at the same time be broken. 

Charms of all kinds are extensively used, and 
implicitly believed in by the people. Most little 
children, but especially boys, will be seen with 
strings of them round their necks — the blue beads 
and eyes already mentioned, rude representations 
of a human hand in brass, or blue glass, bits of 
alum, queer-shaped pieces of bone, and other 
fantastic objects. Another class of charms consists 
of passages from the Koran, some of the ninety- 
nine names of God, or even meaningless hiero- 
glyphics, written on pieces of paper and sewn up 
in square or triangular scraps of leather, which 
are worn about the person. Both Moslems and 
Christians have the greatest faith in these amulets, 
and those persons who are credited with special 
skill or power in writing them can make con- 
siderable sums of money by this means. 

The written charms are usually the work of 
Dervishes, Ulema, and the like, but occasionally 
even women do it. I know of one woman in the 
Beni Zeid who has a great reputation in this 
respect, people coming to her from all the country 
round to purchase her charms. Regular treatises 
on the subject also exist (in manuscript), giving 
full directions how to prepare and write them. I 
possess a copy of one of these treatises, which 
once belonged to a Christian Fellah, who used, 
practically, to get his living by writing amulets for 


the peasants, but who was shown the sin of it and 
induced to abandon the practice. 

Augury is still employed to some extent, in- 
ferences being drawn as to coming events from the 
appearance of birds, animals, etc. For example, if 
an owl alights on a house at night, and hoots, it is 
believed to be a prophecy of the speedy death of 
the owner of the house. On setting out on a 
journey, it is extremely unlucky to see a raven or 
gazelle, but worse than all is to meet a woman 
carrying an empty water-jar. The idea in the 
latter case is that, as the jar has no water in it, so 
the day, journey, or enterprise, will be devoid of 
blessing, this omen being specially unpropitious in 
the early morning. A native friend of mine once 
told me that on a certain occasion he started very 
early one morning from a village where he had 
been staying. As he rode out of the place he met 
a woman with such a jar on her head. As he 
passed her she said aloud, ' In stiallah mclanch ' 
(God grant that it be full), the idea, of course, 
being to avert the omen. On another occasion 
two men, whom I know, were riding into a village, 
when they met a Moslem woman going out to the 
spring, and on her head her empty pitcher. As 
they came up to her, she thrust her arm as far as it 
would go into the pitcher so that it might not be 
empty ! 

But ill-omened as it is for an individual to meet 
a woman with an empty water-jar, it is more 
especially unpropitious for a wedding procession to 
do so, as this would be an infallible indication that 



there would be no blessing on the married life of 
the bride and bridegroom. Should a woman thus 
meet a wedding, she will turn her jar mouth down- 
wards on the ground that it may not be seen to be 
empty, or even, in some cases, she will break the 
pitcher to pieces. 

In some of the more remote districts the people 
have a strong objection to being photographed. 
They have an idea that the picture of a man takes 
from him some part of his essence, and that he 
consequently becomes weak and enfeebled. 

When the new moon is seen for the first time, 
many perform what is really an act of worship, or 
adoration, to it. They stretch out the right hand 
for an instant towards the luminary, and then 
bring it back to the mouth, kiss it, and then 
touch the forehead, at the same time saying, 
* May God be honoured, and may you be 
honoured.' This is, I have little doubt, a survival 
of the idolatrous sun and moon worship once so 
common throughout the East, and a form ot 
adoration as old as the time of Job (Job xxxi. 
2G, 27). This gesture is also employed as a token 
of respect towards a superior. Thus, a man who 
wishes to ask a favour will with his right hand 
touch the beard of the one whose help he intreats, 
and then kiss his own hand, this being equivalent 
to kissing the other's beard, and seems to have 
been a mode of honouring the images of heathen 
gods in Tsraelitish times (1 Kings xix. 18). 

When a tooth comes out of itself, they throw it 
in the eye of the sun, saying, ' Take this donkey's 


tooth, and give me a gazelle's instead.' Donkeys 
are in the East, as with ns, considered very stupid 
animals, though they share this unenviable dis- 
tinction with goats. Indeed, if they wish to say 
that a man is very obtuse or obstinate, they 
generally call him a goat. 

There is a widespread belief in evil spirits of 
various kinds, jinns, ghouls, afrites, et hoc genus 
omne, so familiar to readers of the ' Thousand and 
One Nights.' They are popularly supposed to 
specially haunt corners of houses, and an Arabic 
proverb says, ' j\ T o corner but has its demon.' Caves 
also are often believed to be inhabited by them. 
In the country east of the Dead Sea, where the 
cultivated land is frequently a great distance from 
the villages, the Fellahin, at seed-time and harvest, 
not uncommonly live for weeks at a time in these 
caves so as to be near their work. Before entering 
them they always sacrifice a fowl or some animal 
to the spirit of the place, in order to be on good 
terms with it. 

In certain localities in the land of Moab, and 
other places east of the Jordan, hot springs occur. 
The Fellahin are exceedingly fond of bathing in 
these natural Turkish baths, and many of them 
before entering the water make an offering of a 
fowl, the idea being, apparently, that the jinn 
who presides over the spring and controls the 
subterranean fires, which impart their warmth to 
the water, will not heat it sufficiently unless he be 
propitiated by an offering. 

Insane people are supposed to be possessed by 


these jinns, the ordinary term for such unfortunate 
individuals being Majnun — that is one who has a 

This belief in spirits is very firmly fixed in the 
minds of the people. When Kerak was first 
occupied by the Turkish troops, some twelve years 
ago, I remember an intelligent, well-educated 
native telling me, in all seriousness, that two 
ghouls had been caught in the old castle there, 
and been put in iron cages to be brought over to 

The religion of both Moslems and Christians is 
to a very large extent purely external. The former 
divide actions into Heidi (lawful) and Haram 
(unlawful), and so long as a man abstains from the 
latter he is profoundly satisfied with himself. 
More than this, what may be called ' ritual actions ' 
are often counted of greater importance than the 
keeping of the moral law. Thus, it is considered 
an 'unlawful' (i.e., sinful) act to tread on crumbs 
of bread, and I have seen a Moslem dealer, whose 
every other sentence would be an oath, and who 
would never miss a chance of cheating a customer, 
most scrupulously pick up from the floor of a 
railway-carriage a few minute fragments of bread 
which a European traveller had dropped, lest he 
should inadvertently step on them. 

Asceticism, also, in the matter of food, outweighs 
many a sin. I know a case of a man who is 
notorious among his fellow- Moslems for breaking 
nearly all the moral precepts of the Koran, \ v ho 
yet is held in high honour as a saint. His claim 


to a reputation for sanctity rests on the fact that 
for years he is said never to have drunk any liquid 
whatever, obtaining the moisture necessary to 
maintain his body in health by eating water- 

In many cases both Christians and Moslems are 
intensely ignorant of their own faith. A Greek 
Christian, who came from a large village where 
there was but a handful of Christians among a con- 
siderable Moslem population, and where there was 
no resident priest, once said to me : ' We are very 
ignorant ; the only difference between our women 
and those of the Moslems is that the latter swear 
by the Prophet, and ours by the Virgin.' 

One result of European missions in Palestine 
has been to stir up to some extent the native 
Churches to care for the education and instruction 
of their own people, yet the present condition of 
their flocks in this matter still leaves much to be 

Prayer, as taught in the Bible, is but little 
known by Mohammedans and the more ignorant 
Christians. In the case of the former it would be 
within the mark to say that in the great majority 
of instances the externals of prayer are the all- 
important thing. The doctrine of fate, mentioned 
above, must if followed to its logical conclusion 
render all real prayer nugatory. 

The majority of Moslems are very strict about 
their devotions, carefully observing the hours of 
prayer. Wherever they may be at such times, in 
shop or vineyard, building-yard or cornfield, on 


board ship or riding across the country, they stop 
their work, take off their shoes, spread their outer 
cloaks as prayer-mats on the ground, and then 
repeat the prescribed formulas and go through 
the ordained prostrations. Before prayer, the face, 
feet, hands and arms (as far as the elbows), must be 
washed with water, or, failing that, cleansed with 
sand. Without this preliminary purification they 
hold that God would not hear. 

The sight of a large number of Moslems at 
prayer, led by their Imam, standing in long silent 
rows, prostrating themselv r es on the ground simul- 
taneously, or bowing in unison with the precision 
of a regiment of soldiers at drill, is a very im- 
pressive scene ; but prayer, in the Christian sense 
of the word, it emphatically is not. The repetition 
of the KaUmah, or Moslem formula of faith, ' There 
is no God but God, and Mohammed is the Apostle 
of God,' the recitation of the first chapter of the 
Koran, and certain other formulae, constitute the 
sum total, in a Moslem's mind, of the worship 
required of him. 

It must be confessed that the more ignorant 
members of the Oriental Churches are almost 
equally in the dark as to what true prayer is. A 
few on rising in the morning say, ' O Gate of 
God, O Opener (of the day), O Wise One, 
O Provider, O Generous One !' but beyond this I 
fear it must be said that individual, personal, 
private prayer is unknown to many. 



The villages of Palestine are for the most part — 
at least, in the hill country — on or near the ancient 
sites ; and some not only occupy the same spots, 
but also bear practically the same names, they did 
thousands of years ago, at the dawn of history. 
The sites of these ancient towns and villages were 
largely determined by physical conditions, such as 
a position easily defended or the proximity of an 
abundant water-supply. In the hill country the 
former reason seems to have been the one which 
was chiefly taken into account, and consequently 
most of the present villages and hamlets are on 
the summits of rocky knolls or outlying spurs, 
sometimes in most commanding situations, with 
magnificent views over wide stretches of country. 
Those in valleys are almost invariably close to a 
copious spring of water. 

The villages in the hills are much more sub- 
stantially built than those in the plains ; stone of 
good quality, and easily worked, abounds, and 
where a hamlet occupies an ancient site, old 
materials are often worked up again, and in such 



places one frequently sees finely-dressed blocks, 
fragments of pillars, capitals of columns, etc., built 
into the walls of newly- erected houses. Some of 
these stones may have come down from the earliest 
times, and have been used by Canaanitish, Jewish, 
Greek, Roman, and Syrian masons in succession. 

Not infrequently the summit of the knoll is 
occupied by the remains of an old town or castle, 
the village being built round it, the gray houses 
sometimes clinging, as it were, to the rock, and at 
a distance so like it that often it is difficult to tell 
which is rock and which is ruin or dwelling. The 
houses are, as a rule, built closely together, narrow 
courtyards or winding alleys alone separating them 
from each other. This is often due to the con- 
tracted site or steep slope of the ground, but 
sometimes to the need of protection, the smaller 
the circuit of the village the easier beino; its 
defence, and some of these villages before the 
invention of artillery must have been almost 

The villages in the plains are not uncommonly 
situated on a slight elevation, but, as building stone 
is not to be had within reasonable distance, the red 
earth of the plains is made sometimes to do duty 
in its stead. Some of these villages are very 
picturesque, especially in the spring-time, with 
the low red-walled houses, their flat earthen roofs 
covered with a rich crop of grass, hedges of prickly- 
pear surrounding the place, a few tall date-palms 
growing amongst the houses, and a pool of water, 
left by the winter rains, filling what otherwise 


would be an unsightly pit, produced by digging 
clay for making the houses or covering the roofs. 

In building a house, local conditions will very 
much influence the style and nature of the con- 
struction, and materials used. In the mountains 
timber is very scarce and stone abundant. This 
has led to the adoption of domed stone roofs, and 
the heavy nature of these roofs has obliged the 
building of very substantial walls in order to with- 
stand their thrust, a thickness of 3 feet being quite 
common, and in many cases more is needed. The 
houses for the most part consist of but a single 
room. The interior is usually in two parts — a 
raised portion, called a Mustabeh, occupying some 
three-quarters of the space, and a lower part near 
the door. On the Mustabeh the family live, and 
underneath it a horse, one or more donkeys, a cow, 
or goats, will be stabled at night. Farm imple- 
ments, firewood, charcoal, etc., with fowls, will also 
find accommodation there. On the raised part, 
too, will be the bins where the corn, dried figs, 
lentils, and such-like stores, are kept. In an 
arched recess in the thickness of the wall the 
bedding will be piled away during the day. Holes 
made by leaving out a stone here and there occur 
in the inner courses of the walls, and these contain 
various articles of household use, while between 
the stones pegs are driven, on which are hung 
baskets, straw trays, gourds, etc. 

In some cases a small window or opening is 
made high up in the wall, but very often there is 
no aperture other than the door, the reason of this 



having been the insecure state of the country in 
years gone by, windows being considered to give 
too great an opportunity to an enemy. And even 
now, though matters are in this way much improved, 
and life is more secure in most places, yet still this 
idea is to some extent justified. Not so very long 
ago a man, one night, climbed up to the window 
of a house in Bethlehem and shot his enemy, the 
owner, dead as he lay asleep in bed. 





The above plan is that of a typical native house 
in the hill country, west of the Jordan. A, B, C, 
is the Mustabeh, or raised part, where the family 
lives ; D, E, F, G, H, a row of cornbins ; I, a sort 
of hearth, with sometimes, but by no means always, 
a rude chimney in the thickness of the wall ; K, the 


recess for the bedding ; L, the steps, if any ; M, the 

Such is the ordinary type of house in which the 
average class of peasants dwell. The well-to-do 
will have more than one room, though all the 
rooms on the ground-floor will be of similar type, 
while the poorest class will live in mere hovels, 
built very roughly, sometimes without mortar, the 
whole floor being on a level with the ground. In 
more recently built houses, especially where the 
owner is well off, the style will be more like that 
of the towns, with no Mustabeh, and with fair-sized 
windows with glass in them, and perhaps outside 
wooden shutters. 

An Ally eli, or upper room, as the word means, 
is not unfrequently built on the top, especially for 
sleeping in during the summer, being cooler than 
the house below. Sometimes the guest-room of 
a village will be an Aliyeh. The little chamber 
(2 Kings iv. 10) made by the Shunamite for Elisha 
was an Aliyeh ; and as such rooms are generally 
reached, not through the house, but by an outside 
staircase from the street, he would be able to come 
and go without in any way intruding on, or inter- 
fering with, the family. Occasionally these 'summer 
rooms ' (Judg. iii. 20) will have only four walls, 
the roof being formed of a vine trained over it for 
the purpose, or a shelter of boughs of trees — such 
places, of course, being only used in summer. 

The building of these houses, especially where 
they are to be more than usually substantial, or 
where the owner is poor, is often spread over 


several years. When a man has decided to build, 
he begins by collecting stone for the purpose. The 
rock of Palestine is mostly limestone, of which 
there are several kinds suitable for building. The 
best is a very hard kind, which is sometimes of a 
reddish colour, but more commonly a cream tint, 
and is capable of taking a fine polish ; it is generally 
known as Mizzeh. There are two sorts of it — 
Mizzek yahudch, the hardest stone of the country, 
and Mizzeh helu, a softer variety. Next comes 
Kakuleh, a fine white freestone which cuts readily, 
and yet is hard and strong, and is much used for 
angles, cornices, mullions, etc., wherever, in fact, the 
stone has to be accurately dressed or carved ; then 
MaHkeh, a softer freestone not so durable ; and 
lastly N&rek, a very light, soft, chalky material, 
used only for the domed roofs. 

Having collected stone, the foundations are 
dug, and in the hill districts are almost invariably 
carried down to the rock, which is rarely at any 
great depth below the surface. In the plains, on 
the other hand, it is sometimes impossible to get 
down to rock. The mortar consists of earth and 
lime, the Palestine builders not considering it neces- 
sary to use sand ; the earth dug out of the founda- 
tions, supplemented by soil from the adjoining 
fields, being deemed sufficient. As the shape of 
the stones is irregular, much more mortar, in 
proportion, is required than in Europe, and, owing 
to the scarcity of water in mostj places, this forms 
one of the most serious items in the cost of build- 
ing a house. 


In making the walls, a row of stones of uniform 
thickness on the outer face is carefully laid on the 
foundation by a master-mason, forming the outer 
surface of the wall, a similar row being laid to 
form the inner one. But as, except on the face, 
the stones are very uneven, an irregular space is 
left down the middle for the whole length of the 
wall, and this, as soon as the two outer rows are 
laid, is filled up by another workman with mortar, 
and small rough stones, known as Dcbsh, gathered 
from the land : thus the course, or Midmak, is 
made level for the next one. 

The roofs in many parts are, as already men- 
tioned, of stone, and dome-shaped. These domes 
are cleverly made, some builders, particularly those 
of Bethlehem, being noted for their skill in this 
department of their trade. To form these roofs, 
the walls of the room are not finished off at the 
same level all along, but, on the contrary, each 
wall ends in a more or less pointed arch. Then, 
if the room be a small one, the interior is filled up 
with a domed-shaped mass of earth on which the 
roof is shaped, the earth being afterwards removed. 
Where the space is too large for this method to 
be adopted, a number of stout poles are procured 
and fixed upright in the room, and an elaborate 
framework of sticks of the shape of the intended 
roof is made on these poles or pillars, the frame- 
work being covered with grass, and this again with 
mud, thus forming what may be called a mould 
of the inner surface of the dome. As soon as this 
is dry the building of the roof takes place. Pieces 


of the Nareh, or similar light stone, roughly wedge- 
shaped, are used, and when the whole dome is 
completed it is left for a few days to settle, the 
supports being afterwards removed, when it is 
found to be perfectly firm and solid. 

It is a common custom, when anyone is thus 
roofing a house, for all the neighbours to come 
and lend a helping hand, carrying up the stone, 
mortar, etc., to the masons engaged on the work, 
so that even a large dome will be completed in 
the course of a few hours, it being a great 
advantage to have the whole done in as short a 
time as possible. Those who thus help do not 
receive payment, but the owner of the house makes 
a feast for them in the evening. These occasions 
are greatly enjoyed by the women and children, 
who shout and sing and clap their hands, so that 
all the village knows when a house is being roofed. 
After this is finished, the roof is completed by 
carrying up the walls for two or three courses 
above the spring of the dome, filling up the 
corners with masonry, and covering the roof with 
earth ; or instead of earth a kind of rubble is 
sometimes used, consisting of a sort of fine gravel 
mixed with lime, and where well done it forms 
a very hard and water-tight roof. Where only 
earth is used, it is laid on to a considerable depth, 
and trodden or rolled hard, and if properly done 
is wonderfully water-tight. It must, however, be 
well rolled each year in the autumn, before the 
rains, as a rank crop of grass often grows there 
in the spring, on which goats may sometimes be 


seen grazing, and the roots of which loosen the 
earth, thus rendering it pervious to the rain 
unless it be well rolled. 

In some districts a kind of white clay, called 
Hoivwar, is found, which makes an excellent 
covering. It is mixed with water and crushed 
straw, being laid on pretty thickly, and as it dries 
it is well rolled. It is, when carefully done, very 
effective and very durable. Roofs are also covered 
with large flat paving - stones laid in cement. 
When well laid, this forms the best protection 
from rain and snow, but it requires constant 
watching, as, in the hills, frost and snow in the 
winter destroy the cement between the joints, 
and as a result there is much leakage. 

East of the Jordan, owing to the greater amount 
of suitable timber, the houses are not so sub- 
stantially built, as the roofs are flat, and con- 
sequently the pressure is vertical. In the case of 
a small house, one or more stout beams called 
Homarah (lit., a ' she-donkey ') run from end to 
end, the longer way of the room. Across these 
a number of much lighter rafters are laid ; on 
these, again, are reeds, secured side by side as 
closely as they will go, and on the reeds a 
quantity of the Netsh bush already mentioned ; 
while over all, earth, to the depth of a foot or 
eighteen inches, is piled and rolled hard. These 
roofs do not as a rule last long, unless fires are 
lit fairly often in the room ; for a kind of small 
weevil takes up its abode in the reeds and rafters, 
boring innumerable small holes in them, and soon 



destroying the roof. One soon sees if they are 
at work, as, when this is the case, a light powder, 
like very fine sawdust, falls on everything ; while 
at night, when all is quiet, the sound of the jaws 
of the tiny insects busy at work can be distinctly 
heard. If, however, fires are lit in the room, the 
smoke keeps the weevils away, and where this is 
done the roof lasts a long time. 

The plan of the larger houses in Moab and 
other parts of Eastern Palestine differs consequently 
somewhat from that already given. In the above 
plan of a house I have more than once stayed in, 
east of the Jordan, A, B, is an open space in the 
middle of the house ; C, a hearth ; D, D, etc., are 
arches of stone on which the roof rests, the space 
being too great to allow of single beams being 
used ; E is the main door, with a courtyard ; F, 


a smaller door ; G, G, etc., are the spaces between 
the arches. The floors of these spaces are usually 
raised two or three feet above the rest of the 
room, and on them the family live, or else they 
are occupied with sacks of corn, sometimes piled 
up to the roof, or on them are stored agricultural 
implements, household utensils, and the general 
possessions of the owners. 

The doors are as a rule strong, and roughly 
made ; the hinges are generally formed by projec- 
tions at top and bottom, from the plank which 
forms the inner edge of the door, these projections 
working in two holes, one in the upper and the 

<\ : ^^3 



other in the lower lintel. Rough iron locks are 
a good deal used, but the old form of wooden 
lock, which has been in vogue for thousands of 
years, is still by no means uncommon. The 
principle of these locks is decidedly ingenious. 
The end of the wooden bolt (B) furthest from 
the wall has a deep groove (G) in it for about 
a third of its length ; above this groove are several 
holes in a regular pattern (H). In the block 
through which this bolt runs are a number of 
iron pins, corresponding in numbei^and pattern 
with the holes in the bolt, and so arranged that 
when the bolt is pushed home the pins drop into 
the holes and prevent its return. 



The key with which it is opened consists of a 
piece of wood which will go easily into the groove, 
and having on its upper surface a number of small 
pegs exactly corresponding in number and pattern 
with the holes in the bolt, the length of the pegs 
being precisely the same as the thickness of that 
part of the bolt in which are the holes. Thus, 
when the key is fitted into the bolt and pushed 
up, the pegs lift the pins clear of the bolt, which 
can then be drawn back and the door opened. It 
will be seen that no key is needed to shoot the 
bolt, and this will explain how Ehud, after killing 
Eglon, was able to lock the door where the dead 
King lay (Judg. iii. 23), and thus gain time to 
escape, for, of course, no one can draw back the 
bolt without the proper key. The lock is ordinarily 
placed on the outside of the door, but sometimes 
on the inside, and where this is done a hole is cut 
in the door to admit the hand and key, a custom 
referred to in Cant. v. 4. 

House-tops play a very important part in village 
life in Palestine. In the hilly districts the one- 
storied rooms are often built back to the side of 
the knoll, or hill, on which the village stands ; or 
where it is in a valley, a perpendicular rock surface 
will occasionally be utilized as one of the walls, 
and the roof will thus be on a level with the street 
above. Where such a village is dependent on the 
rain for its water-supply, the roof will be made 
flush with the roadway, in order to get a greater 
area from which to collect the water for the cistern 
below. When this is done, it is often impossible 


to tell from above where the street ends and the 
roof begins. Once when starting from Madeba, 
in the Belka, in the small hours of a dark winter's 
night, I twice found myself and my horse on the 
roof of a house instead of in the street. In other 
cases the roadway has gradually risen to the level 
of the roofs. This is caused by the habit the 
Fellahin have of throwing the ashes from their 
ovens and the sweepings from their floors into 
the little narrow lanes of the village. In the lapse 
of centuries this rubbish has slowly accumulated 
to such an extent that the surface of the court- 
yards, once level with the street, is now several 
feet below it, and the latter has so risen that 
it is almost, if not quite, on a level with the 

The roofs, although really domed, as already 
described, are not unfrequently afterwards levelled 
up so as to make them quite flat, or sloping 
slightly to one corner to throw off the rain more 
easily. They are put to an infinite variety of 
uses ; thus, in a village built on the side of a 
particularly steep valley, where it was almost 
impossible to find a flat space, I have seen a 
house-top used as a threshing-floor. Where the 
house is not built against the hillside, faggots of 
brushwood, used by the women for firewood, are 
often piled up on the roof for safety. During 
the sesame harvest the green stalks, with their 
long, narrow seed-pods, are stacked there to dry. 
Olives are spread out to mature before being- 
crushed, and the housewife will keep her spare 


jars there. During the dry season I have seen 
goats and sheep folded there at night, and in 
the hot, sultry nights of summer the whole family 
will frequently sleep on the house-top. 

The good-wife builds her eornbins, moulds her 
huge water-jars, dries her BurgJud, and does various 
other household tasks, there. After sunset in the 
summer evenings, the men will often bring their 
long pipes and smoke here, discussing the day's 
news or work, and enjoying the cool breeze. 
Should a quarrel be going on, or a fight, or an 
attack on the village be imminent, all the villagers 
will be upon the roofs (see Isa. xxii. 1), which 
command a much better prospect of what is going 
on than can be obtained in the narrow, crooked 
lanes ; and I have known of more than one 
treacherous murder, and attempted murder, where 
the murderer has, from the house-top, thrown a 
heavy stone on the skull of his unsuspecting victim 
passing below. When an announcement which 
concerns the village generally has to be made, one 
of the elders mounts to an elevated roof, and, in 
tones which can be heard all over the place, tells 
his news or issues his orders (St. Matt. x. 27).* 

In the case which has been already mentioned, 

* The following is the formula with which the announce- 
ment is made : ' thou that hearest the voice pray in the 
name of Mohammed , — (or ' of Christ, 1 if it be a Christian 
village). If there are both Christians and Moslems, the crier 
says : ' Let the Moslem pray in the name of his Prophet, and 
the Nazarene in the name of his Friend, the matter is such 
and such.'' 



,.,,,/. ,11 


of a number of rooms built on to each other for 
a family of sons, the roofs will join, though some- 
times at different levels. In some cases these 
roofs are reached from the streets by an outside 
staircase — a circumstance which explains several 
points in the New Testament. Thus, for example, 
when (St. Matt. xxiv. 17) the man on the house- 
top is warned not to go down into his house to 
fetch anything, the thought clearly is, that he is 
to escape instantly, so close at hand is the danger, 
descending into the street at once, and not going 
round into his house : otherwise this trifling delay 
would cost him his life. 

Again, in the healing of the palsied man, the 
Saviour was, I hold it, in the courtyard of a house, 
standing, very likely, in the doorway of one of the 
rooms opening into it, this courtyard being so full 
that the four men found it impossible to get their 
sick friend near Him. Mounting by the staircase 
from the street to such a roof as has been described 
above, they easily reached the spot above that 
where Jesus was standing. Here a further diffi- 
culty met them : the house, in accordance with 
the Mosaic law (Deut. xxii. 8), had a parapet 
round the roof, unlike many of the houses of the 
Fellahin to-day, and it was impossible to lift him 
safely over it, and let him down into the courtyard 
below. This parapet was, however, not of a very 
substantial nature ; like many such in Palestine 
to-day, it was composed of tiles (St. Luke v. 19). 
These tiles are, in shape and size, somewhat like 
those used in England for draining fields, except 


that they are much thinner. They are laid, with 
mortar, lengthwise, one above another (the thick- 
ness of the parapet being the length of the tile), 
a light, strong wall being thus produced, which 
allows the breeze to pass freely, and permits those 
on the roof to see something of what is going on 
around, without being themselves visible. This 
parapet being gone, it was easy enough for the 
four men to lower the mattress on which the 
palsied man lay, down to the spot where the 
Lord stood. 

Cisterns are much used for storing rain-water 
collected from the roofs, courtyards, and streets 
of the village. They are made in the ground and, 
in districts where the supply of water is obtained 
entirely from them, it is common for anyone who 
wishes to build a house to make a cistern the 
previous year, both in order that he may have 
water for building, and also because the water 
gathered the first year in it is not considered 

Many villages have no other water-supply than 
these underground cisterns, and old sites are often 
honeycombed with them. Sometimes a hole has 
to be dug on purpose, but not unfrequently one 
caused by getting stone is utilized for the purpose. 
Round the interior of the hole a strong wall is 
built, and, resting on it, a domed or barrel-shaped 
roof, similar to those of the houses, a square open- 
ing being left through which to draw water, and 
sufficiently large to allow a man to pass through 
when the well needs to be cleaned. The floor 



page 7_. 


slopes slightly towards a spot immediately below 
the mouth of the cistern. The whole of the inside 
is then thickly plastered with lime and earth, and, 
when nearly dry, a coating composed of lime, 
ground pottery, and sand, is given to the plaster. 
In process of time this becomes intensely hard and 
perfectly water-tight. These cisterns should, even 
in the most favourable circumstances, be cleaned 
out every few years, as a considerable amount of 
dust is carried down into them from even the best- 
kept roofs. 

The natives almost always use buckets in the 
villages with which to draw the water, and these 
are infinitely preferable to pumps, as each time the 
bucket descends it carries with it a certain quantity 
of air, which helps to keep the water sweet and 
prevents its becoming stagnant, whereas a pump 
has no such good effects. 

In years of abnormally short rainfall in these 
villages, which depend entirely on rain-fed cisterns 
for their water-supply, when these are nearly 
exhausted, there is a good deal of stealing of 
water in the dark ; and in order to prevent this, 
I have known people to spread their mattresses at 
night on the mouth of the well, as it is called, and 
to sleep there. 

The village shop, as in more civilized lands, 
plays an important part in village life. In all 
but the smallest hamlets, one or two of these 
shops are to be found, while in the larger places, 
especially those that are centres of trade, there 
will be many of them. Here may be bought 


articles of clothing of native manufacture, calicoes 
from Europe, red shoes, striped kerchiefs for 
turbans, coloured cottons and silks for embroider- 
ing their gala dresses, heavy cloaks, and sheepskin 
coats. The housewife will find rice, coffee, sugar, 
tobacco, soap, petroleum, matches, etc. In the 
larger villages, besides these things, one can buy 
native hardware, felt for saddle-cloths, nosebags 
and hobbles for horses, certain drugs, powder and 
shot, flint and steel, and a variety of miscellaneous 
goods. In the better shops the articles in which 
the owners deal will be kept in rough shelves, 
made of the wooden cases in which the tins of 
petroleum are imported from Russia. These boxes, 
about 18 inches long, 15 deep, and 9 wide, are 
laid on their sides in rows one on the top of 
another, and form convenient receptacles for the 
various commodities, which are generally laid, just 
as they are, in these shelves ; any perishable articles 
they keep in wooden boxes from Damascus. 

The shops themselves are small rooms, a few 
feet square, without a window, and opening on to 
the street. In the less-important places, any odd 
corner, the space under an archway leading on to 
the roof, or any hole that can be made sufficiently 
secure against thieves, will serve the purpose. The 
shopkeeper often lives in his shop, and I have on 
more than one occasion been glad to avail myself 
of such a shelter. Much of the buying and selling 
is done by barter, money being a very scarce 
commodity. As one sits chatting with the shop- 
keeper, a young man comes in for some tobacco, 


and tenders a couple of eggs in payment ; these 
are accepted, and he receives a little square paper 
packet from a rough straw basket containing a 
pile of such packets. Presently a youth appears 
with a dirty tin can to be filled with petroleum ; 
he has no money with him, but says his father 
has sent him and will pay when he next has any, 
and, as he is the son of the sheikh of the village, 
the owner of the shop trusts him. In a few 
minutes a young woman appears with a small 
basket of barley which she wishes to exchange 
for some native sweets ; the shopkeeper takes the 
barley, which he empties into a box half full of 
that grain, and gives her in return a handful of 
indigestible-looking red and white sugar-plums, 
about the size of peas. A boy comes next with 
a single egg, which he tenders in payment for 
some sugar : the proper price of the amount he 
wants is two eggs, but he has only one just now, 
and will bring the other as soon as he can get it ; 
the man agrees, and gives him an irregular lump 
of sugar from a sackful in one corner, and the lad 
departs well pleased. 

The next customer is a middle-aged man, who 
wants a skein of red cotton for his wife. A bundle 
of skeins wrapped up in paper is produced from 
a hole in the wall, and the man, who is very 
suspicious, and evidently thinks the shopkeeper is 
trying to cheat him, at length selects one, and, 
after haggling over the price, produces a small 
coin in payment. The shopkeeper objects to it as 
being too much worn ; ' By the life of the Prophet, 


I have nothing else,' returns the customer, and the 
other, rather than lose his custom, accepts it. It 
is, however, a trifle more than the price of the 
skein, and, after hunting all over his shop, the 
salesman cannot quite scrape together the full 
amount of change, so after a lot of talking and 
arguing the man goes off with his purchase, and the 
sum of half a farthing to his credit on the other's 
1 books ' — i.e., his head ! Just as he gets outside 
the door, the boy who bought the sugar returns 
to discharge his debt, one of his mother's hens 
having in the meanwhile very obligingly laid an 
egg. And so it goes on all day long. 

Even in the large market villages much of the 
payments to the shopkeepers is in kind. In 
exchange for their wares they take fowls, eggs, 
wheat, and other farm produce, which they in 
turn sell in the towns for cash. Another form 
of this trading by barter is met with in the 
summer. A man has his land planted with vines, 
and so can grow but little wheat, but during the 
grape season he will now and then take a load 
of fruit to a village where there are no vines, and 
exchange it for corn, giving three pounds of grapes 
for a pound of wheat. Prickly-pears, tomatoes, 
water-melons, etc., are often brought for sale in 
this way. 

East of the Jordan, about Kerak, where there is 
even less coin in circulation than in other districts, 
the people, when selling their produce, state its 
value in corn, even though the payment may be 
actually made in coin. The shops in Kerak and 


some other places are much more roomy than 
those in Western Palestine, as the accompanying 
illustration will show. 

Cattle markets are held at certain towns and 
villages, as Jerusalem, Lydd, etc., once a week, 
or at longer intervals. To these the peasants 
bring their horses, camels, cattle, mules, and 
donkeys for sale. That at Jerusalem is held on 

There are a few itinerant pedlars who go about 
the country selling needles and thread, combs, 
cheap round looking-glasses, and other small 
articles, chiefly such as are required by women. 
They also do most of their trade by barter, 
receiving eggs, grain, etc., in return for their 
wares, and disposing of these in the towns for a 
fresh stock of goods. A few Jews wander about 
selling silk for embroidering the women's dresses ; 
while itinerant cobblers, tinsmiths, and jewellers 
are also to be met with. 

When the Mohammedan conquest of Palestine 
took place, Arab adventurers and warriors from 
various tribes of the Hejaz, and other parts of 
Arabia, settled in the country and became powerful. 
Among these were men from two clans, or tribes, 
known as Kes and Yemen. They gradually 
acquired position and authority, and had many 
villages in the Jebel el Kuds under their control. 
These two tribes had been at enmity in their own 
land, and carried the memory of this enmity into 
Palestine. After a while the old feud broke out 
again, and there were frequent quarrels, often 


ending in bloodshed, between the various villages 
attached to the two factions. Sometimes the one 
got the upper hand, and sometimes the other. 
The Christians were obliged to side with one or 
the other. In one village where there were 
several large families, one half was Kes, and the 
other Yemen. Not that they were keen partisans, 
but merely to preserve their village from destruc- 
tion, as, whichever side was for the moment 
supreme, the place would be unmolested for the 
sake of the moiety of the population which was 
in league with that particular side. The in- 
habitants of the villages which belong to the two 
factions were, and are still to a great extent, 
distinguished by the colour of their turbans, those 
of the Kes adherents being red, and the Yemen 
white. The chiefs of the respective factions would 
always acknowledge the claims of their Christian 
partisans, and would come to their help when in 
danger from the opposite party. The Turkish 
Government has during the last twenty-five years 
made its authority more felt, and in consequence 
the fights between these two factions have become, 
to a large extent, a thing of the past, though not 
altogether so. I can recall one at least within the 
last few years, although no lives were lost in the 

In some of the villages of the Beni Zeid, as 
Abud, Abu Meshal, Slukh, Deir ul Ghassaneh, 
Beit Rima, Koba, and Kefr Ain, are families of 
a widely-spread clan known as the Baraghafeh. 
They take their name from Abu Bekr, the first 


Khalifa, or successor of Mohammed, from whom 
they claim to be descended. They consider them- 
selves much above the ordinary Fellah in, and their 
women are secluded, more as those of the towns- 
people. After marriage they are, in many cases, 
not allowed to go out of the house into the street 
until middle-aged, and under any circumstances 
not for several years. When at length they do 
begin to go outside the house, they cover their 
heads and faces with a sort of cloak. In old age 
they go about unveiled, and dressed much as other 
peasant women. 

The Beni Zeid mentioned above were, with the 
Beni Harith and others whose names will be seen 
marked on some maps of Palestine, Arab settlers 
who acquired authority in bygone centuries over 
certain districts, their names being given to those 
districts to the present time. 

There is a very strong feeling about the duties 
of clanship among the Fellahin. This has, no 
doubt, been fostered and developed by the lawless- 
ness and unsettled state of the land in days now 
past ; still, if a man can prove even the most distant 
relationship to another, the claim is recognised, and 
help and assistance will, as far as possible, be given 
him in any difficulty. 

The same feeling runs through most things, and 
binds together people of the same creed, family, 
and village, for mutual help and protection. On 
the other hand, if a quarrel takes place between 
two persons, it is often considered to extend to all 
the members of his house or clan, and sometimes 


even more widely still. This is illustrated by their 
proverbs, such, e.g., as, ' He who is not of your 
family your enemy does not envy him,' and, again, 
' Your neighbour's enemy does not love you.' 
This clannishness has, however, been fatal to any 
national life ; its practical effect has been to split 
up the people into little parties, distrustful of all 
outside their own particular set, and so has 
prevented any combination of the people against 
oppression or to secure better government. Though 
no part of the policy of the foreign Power which 
now rules Palestine, it is, nevertheless, another 
instance of the truth of the old Roman maxim, 
' Divide et impera.' In all probability its source, 
apart from an innate tendency in this direction, 
is to be found in the influx of Arab settlers in 
the period succeeding the Mohammedan conquest 
of Syria, who, as mentioned when speaking of the 
Kes and Yemen factions, brought their ancient 
feuds with them, and perpetuated them in their 
new home, thus being a further fulfilment concern- 
ing Ishmael and his descendants, that his hand 
should be against every man, and every man's 
hand against him (Gen. xvi. 12). This lack of 
unity is acknowledged by the best of the people, 
but so far they have found no remedy for it. 

The head of the village is called a Sheikh (literally, 
* an old man '). As a rule there is only one Sheikh, 
but occasionally there is more than one. Till 
recent times there was a great deal of real authority 
attaching to the office, extending even, in rare 
cases, to the power of life and death. The policy 


of the Ottoman Government of late years has been 
to abolish such offices, as far as any effective 
authority is concerned, so that except in very out- 
of-the-way places, where the central power is still 
comparatively ineffective, the position of a Sheikh 
is very largely a sinecure, and carries with it but 
little of the old prestige ; nevertheless, an able 
man, especially if he be rich and of an influential 
family, has still a good deal of indirect power. 
Many cases of petty crimes are never taken to 
the Government, but settled locally ; and I have 
even known the same course pursued in a murder 
case. In serious matters several of the more 
prominent Sheikhs of the neighbourhood will be 
called in to advise or adjudicate, and their decision 
will be binding. When a Sheikh dies, the Sheikhs 
of the adjacent villages meet together to choose his 
successor, the office not being hereditary. As a 
matter of fact, however, unless there were anything 
specially to disqualify him, the eldest son of the 
late Sheikh would succeed his father. 

Besides the Sheikh, every village has a kind of 
council of men chosen by the villagers. They are 
the official representatives of the village in all 
matters which have to go before the Government. 
Thus, when the tithes have been assessed, a 
document is issued from the proper department 
in the head town of the district where the village 
is situated, stating the amount demanded from 
the people for that year ; but before it can be 
collected, the Ikhthjartyah, as these representatives 
are called, must put their seals to this document, 



showing that they consider it a just assessment, 
and pledging themselves to the payment of it. 
Should they consider it unjust, they are bound to 
refuse to seal it, and sometimes, where this is the 
case, they do refuse ; but too often they either lack 
the courage to do so or accept a bribe from those 
to whose interest it is to put the taxes at a high 

There is also an official known as a Mukhtar, 
who has to inform the Government of all births, 
deaths, and marriages, in his community ; to collect 
taxes from the people ; get passports for any who 
may wish to travel ; and, where anyone is arrested, 
to try to get him off or find bail for him. Most 
of the various religious communities have each a 
Mukhtar of their own, or, if they be numerous, 
two or more, as every twenty-four families can, 
if they so desire, claim to have a Mukhtar to 

Compulsory military service obtains throughout 
the Turkish Empire. Every year a conscription 
takes place, when all the able-bodied Mohammedan 
males have to draw lots for this purpose. Christians 
are not allowed to bear arms, this being one of the 
marks of inferiority imposed on them at the time 
of the Arab conquest of Palestine. Instead of 
military service they have to pay a special tax, 
which is levied on all males. The conscription is 
hated by the people, who do all they can to evade 
it. I have even known of a man cutting off one 
of his fingers in order to disqualify himself for 
bearing arms, while a young Moslem I know well, 


who had his leg amputated, congratulated himself 
that now he could not be taken as a soldier. This 
compulsory service is a heavy burden to the people. 
In the palmy days of Ottoman rule, when the land 
was richer and the people more prosperous, it 
pressed but lightly on them ; but now it is 
very different. The numbers of able-bodied men 
taken out of the country, though not, perhaps, 
absolutely large, are relatively so. Indeed, in some 
cases, as a man once said to me, ' only old men 
and boys are left to till the ground.' This is, of 
course, not always the case, but only when some 
war-scare has led to the calling out of the reserves. 
Still, this compulsory military service is a constant 
drain on the Moslem population, as many of those 
thus taken from their homes never return, and it 
is a potent factor in the steady diminution of the 
Mohammedans in Palestine and Syria. 

One characteristic feature of the village life is 
the Sahrah, or 'watching.' If a guest from the 
city, or a European stranger, or anyone of con- 
sequence, is spending the night in the village, the 
people of the place, after the evening meal, will 
drop in by ones and twos to the room where he 
is staying, whether it be with the sheikh in the 
public guest-house or with any one of the villagers. 
The outer door of the house is always open, and 
the people stroll in as they please, unrebuked. A 
dark form fills the doorway, the man pauses for a 
moment after he has crossed the threshold to slip 
off his shoes, and then advancing into the room, 
with a general salute of ' May your evening be 



prosperous ' or ' God be with you ' if they are 
Christians, and ' Peace be upon you ' if Moslems, 
he comes up to the principal guest and salutes him, 
taking his hand between his two palms and utter- 
ing an appropriate greeting. He then salutes the 
other guests, if any ; which done, he takes his seat 
among those already present, squatting down in 
the place due to his social position in the little 
community. Others come in in quick succession, 
and the room soon fills. The visitor is asked for 
the latest items of news from the city. A report 
has been spread that the Redif (the reserves) are 
to be called out, and, if Moslems, the probabilities 
or the reverse of the news being true are 
eagerly discussed, the military service being most 

The news of the village is retailed, the weather, 
the prospects of the harvest, vintage, or olive crop, 
discussed, or news of the outside world, as far as it 
has reached them, is told or commented on. And 
most extraordinary news one hears sometimes ! 
When King Edward succeeded to the throne, the 
wildest stories were current among the Fellahin as 
to the part the Sultan had played in securing his 
succession ; for they have the most exaggerated 
ideas of the power of the Sublime Porte in the 
councils of Europe. One version T heard was, that 
the English did not wish the Prince of Wales to 
succeed Queen Victoria, but that the Sultan put 
his foot down and insisted on his being accepted 
as King, and that the British nation of course gave 
in at once. Another version was, that on Queen 


Victoria's death the crowned heads of Europe met 
to discuss who should succeed her (just as in the case 
of the death of one of their village sheikhs), and, on 
a difference of opinion arising among them, it was 
decided to refer the matter to the Sultan and to 
abide by his decision, and that he decided for 
King Edward, who was therefore chosen by the 
other Sovereigns as the King of Great Britain ! 
These gatherings are full of interest to a stranger, 
as he learns much then of the habits and customs 
of the people, while to the missionary they are 
invaluable opportunities for delivering his message. 

The Fellahin have a great love for their native 
place, and think it is a real hardship to have to 
settle elsewhere. 

As in other parts of the world, there is a 
considerable difference in the dialects spoken in 
various parts of the country, this difference con- 
sisting partly in pronunciation, and partly in the 
use of different words, this latter being increased 
by the extreme copiousness of the Arabic language, 
and by the small amount of communication, till 
lately, between the different districts. The towns- 
people often laugh at the Fellahin for their pro- 
nunciation, and though there are vulgarisms in 
this, yet they, too, can turn the tables on the 
former, and in the matter of grammar they are, 
at times, the more correct of the two. Thus, the 
Fellahin very frequently pronounce the Ay//' (or soft 
A), as a oh- — ckul-cd-dechacJihi, (all the shops), instead 
of kul-cd-dekakrii ; while, on the other hand, the 
towns-people will have the very disagreeable habit 


of dropping the h\f (or hard k) — thus, 'anineh (a 
bottle), instead of kanineh; Ya-ub (Jacob), instead 
of Yakub. Occasionally a classical word, the mean- 
ing of which has been forgotten, is used as a proper 
name. Thus, both Tabor and the Mount of Olives 
are known locally as Jebel et Tiir (the Hill, or 
Mountain, of Tfir), Tur being an archaic word 
for hill (the same as ' Taurus,' and our word ' tor,' 
used in Cumberland, Westmorland, Derbyshire, 
and Devonshire, for a hill*). Those Fellahin 
who come much in contact with the Bedouin 
usually speak a much purer and more classical 
dialect than the others, and also share with them 
certain peculiarities of pronunciation. Thus, they 
almost invariably pronounce the kdf(k)as a hard 
g — gam?-, instead of kamr (the moon) — and the 
kaf as cA, thus losing both the k sounds of the 
Arabic alphabet. This is especially true of the 
Fellahin east of the Jordan. 

There are many gipsies in Palestine, who wander 
about from village to village, spending their whole 
lives in miserable tents. They are divided into 
different tribes or clans, each of which keeps to 
its own tract of country. They are nominally 
Moslem, but what their real religion is no one 
seems to know. Of late years the Turkish Govern- 
ment has exacted military service from them, as 

* There is a curious instance of precisely the same use of a 
word of forgotten meaning as a proper name in the North of 
England, a hill in the lake district being known as Tor-pen- 
how Hill, each of these four words having precisely the same 
meaning, but in as many different languages or dialects. 


from the Fellahin. The women are inveterate 
beggars, and a proverb runs, ' Put a gipsy woman 
in a hundred palaces, and she will still beg.' They 
have a language of their own, which the Fellahin 
contemptuously call Asfureh, or 'sparrows' talk.' 
They are on good terms with the peasants, and 
are the blacksmiths of the countryside, doing all 
the little odd jobs which a village smith would do 
in England, but with the most primitive of tools. 
I am inclined to think that this was the case in 
Jewish times also, and may partly account for the 
fact that iron and smiths are so rarely mentioned 
in the Old Testament in connection with the 
Israelites. It also, I think, throws light on a 
rather curious passage. In 1 Sam. xiii. 19 we 
read : ■ Now there was no smith found throughout 
all the land of Israel ; for the Philistines said, Lest 
the Hebrews make them swords or spears.' It is 
not said that the Philistines killed all the smiths in 
Israel, and, indeed, this would have been impossible, 
unless the nation had been brought much lower 
than we know to have been the case ; yet the 
Israelites seem to have been ignorant of the art of 
making these weapons, and to have been deprived 
by the action of the Philistines, of those to whom 
they would otherwise have gone for swords or 

Had these roving smiths been found then, as 
now, the matter would have been simple enough, 
as they would have been easily discovered, and by 
merely removing them, with their ■ houses of hair ' 
and other impedimenta, into the Philistines' country, 


the Israelites would have been effectually deprived 
of the means of obtaining arms. 

At times one meets peasants going about with a 
dancing bear, which they make perform for hire. 
The bear is the Syrian species from the Lebanon, 
smaller in size and lighter in colour than the 
European one. Sometimes besides a bear they 
have a goat which does climbing tricks. 

There are certain men who may be called 
1 improvisers,' who go about the country and sing 
to the accompaniment of a native violin or some 
other instrument. Sometimes two of them will 
have a contest of skill, improvising against each 
other. There is a famous instance of two such, 
one a Maronite and the other a Greek, which I 

Says the Maronite : 

1 1 am not like other men, nor of an odious creed, nor like 
the Greek priest, for whom there is no place in heaven. 1 

The Greek replies : 

' I am not like other men, nor of a fettered creed, nor like 
Mar Martin, binding a clout on his eye C 
the allusion being to the Maronite being bound to 
Home, and to Martin their patron saint, who is 
said to have lost an eye by a blow from the awl of 
a cobbler whom he had attacked in controversy. 



The infant of a peasant family, when it arrives on 
the scene, is, if a boy, heartily welcomed. Even if 
a girl the fact is not regretted to the extent it would 
be in the case of towns-people, as, if spared to 
grow up, a good sum will be received for her at her 
marriage. As soon as born, the child is rubbed 
all over with salt and oil, and wrapped in old 
garments ; on the third day it is again rubbed 
with salt and oil, or very frequently with a mixture 
of oil and red earth instead. On the seventh day 
it has a bath, and from that day till the fortieth it 
is washed about once a week. After the fortieth 
day, infants are not washed again till they can talk, 
the only exception being that the face is sometimes 
cleaned with a little milk, but never with water. 
Such is the general practice, but it varies a good 
deal in different parts of the country. 

The swaddling-clothes (St. Luke ii. 7) consist of 
several pieces : a tiny shirt, a cap, a little cotton 
coat, a long strip of calico which is bound round 
and round the child to insure his body, arms, and 
legs being perfectly straight and rigid, and over all 



a large square of print or other material in which 
the body is ' wrapped ' tightly, and which is secured 
by a tape. These clothes are worn till the child is 
two or three months old, the length of time being 
determined by his size and strength, a small delicate 
child being bound up far longer than a large healthy 

The peasant women are very strong physically, 
and usually work hard up to the time of their con- 
finement, and are about again very soon after it, 
without in any way suffering from doing so. I re- 
member a case of a Moslem woman who supplied us 
with milk, walking each day into the city with her 
basket of milk -jars on her head, whose child was 
born as she was returning one day from her round : 
she wrapped the little one in her veil, and walked 
home with it as if nothing had happened. In 
another similar case, a Christian woman, who had 
gone to cut firewood several miles from the village, 
returned with a heavy faggot of sticks on her head 
and her new-born infant wrapped up in her sleeve. 
Village midwives receive but a trifling remuneration, 
usually in the form of wheat or some other house- 
hold necessary, and only in a few of the more 
prosperous villages are they ever paid in money. 

Should the father be absent from home at the 
time of the child's birth, someone will go to the 
town, or wherever he may be working (especially 
should it be a first-born and a son), to take the 
news. On meeting the father, he greets him with 
the words ' El besharah an dak ' (There is good news 
at home). The latter, who at once guesses what 


the good news is, replies, ' May God announce 
good news to you : I give you so-and-so,' naming 
as valuable a present as his circumstances will 

Among the Christian peasantry the next im- 
portant matter is the naming of a child. In the 
case of the first-born of an eldest son, custom 
prescribes the name by which he must be called — ■ 
viz., that of his paternal grandfather. Thus, if a 
man of the name of Musa (Moses) has a son of the 
name of Ibrahim (Abraham), the latter will call his 
eldest son Musa, after his father. So much is this 
the case that sometimes a mere boy is called the 
'father of So-and-so,' the name being that of the 
son which it is hoped he will one day have, and 
which he will, in accordance with this custom, call 
by his father's name ;* for when a child is born to 
a young couple, they are known thenceforth, not 
by their own names, but as the ' father of So-and- 
so ' and the ' mother of So-and-so.' Thus, if B-ashid 
has a son Towfik, he will no longer be known as 
Rashid, nor will his wife, Jamileh, be known by 
that name ; but he will be called Abu Towfik 
(Father of Towfik), and she will be called Jmm 
Towfik (Mother of Towfik). This custom, how- 
ever, rather adds to the difficulty of distinguishing- 
people in ordinary conversation, as there are, strictly 

* This expression has sometimes been differently explained 
as an idiom peculiar to the Fellah in, viz., Abu for Abuhu — 
i.e., ' father ' instead of ' his father.* 1 Careful inquiry has, 
however, convinced me that this is incorrect, the explanation 
in the text being the true one. 


speaking, no surnames in use in Palestine. For 
instance, in the two examples given above, Ibrahim 
will be in more precise language, as, e.g., in the 
address of a letter, Ibrahim Musa — i.e., son of 
Miisa ; and Towfik will be Towfik Rashid — i.e., 
son of Rashid ; whereas their eldest sons will be 
Miisa Ibrahim, and Rashid Towfik respectively. 

On the other hand, besides these appellations, 
there is the name of the man's ' house ' or ' clan ' 
which can be used as a means of further identifying 
or distinguishing him. In almost every village 
there are two or more of these ' clans ' or ' houses,' 
bearing sometimes (as the Scotch clans) a common 
name. This name may be derived from that of a 
distinguished ancestor, or a place from which they 
came originally, or perhaps from some notable 
circumstance connected with their history. Thus, 
a man can be further described as ' So-and-so, son 
of So-and-so of such a house.' This is a common 
Oriental expression, and one we find occurring in 
the Old Testament, as, for example, Num. xvii. 8, 
1 Sam. xxv. 3, 2 Chron. xxii. 9 ; and on the Assyrian 
monuments Beit Khumri, House of Omri, is the 
usual term for the Kings of Israel. 

Of the names in ordinary use a few are peculiar 
to Moslems and Christians respectively. Of the 
former may be mentioned such as Mohammed and 
Mustapha among men's names, and Khadijeh, 
Zenab and 'Aysheh among women's ; while of the 
latter Bulus and Butrus will serve as instances of 
men's, and Maria and Lydia of women's names. 
Many of the Mohammedan names are compounds 


of one or other of the ninety-nine names of God, as 
Abul-ul-Kadir (Slave of the Almighty), Abd-ur- 
Rahmiin (Slave of the Compassionate), and so on. 
The great majority of names are common to 
Mohammedans and Christians. Many are given 
because of their meaning, such as Towfik, fortunate ; 
Jamil, handsome ; Anis, sociable ; Zarifeh, beauti- 
ful ; Nabihah, intelligent ; and so on. The significa- 
tion of some of the compound names is very 
beautiful : thus, Lutfallah and Farajallah, both of 
which are men's names, mean ' the gentleness of 
God ' and ' the rest of God ' respectively ; and 
Rahmetallah, a girl's name, ' the mercy of God.' 

Among the Moslems there is no special ceremony 
connected with the naming of a child. If the 
father has no predilection for any particular name, 
he goes to the Khatib to consult him about it. 
These men have books which give lists of special 
names for each day of the week, and the father 
selects one of those given for the day on which the 
child was born. 

The Christians, of course, have their children 
baptized, and the rite is usually administered 
within forty days after birth. In the Greek 
Church the children always have sponsors, and the 
difficulty of finding persons willing to take that 
office for a child sometimes delays baptism. It is 
usual for people to offer to be sponsors, as, owing 
to the fact that it is customary for them to make 
presents to their godchildren, parents are very 
reluctant to ask people to stand. Where persons 
have been godparents to a first-born child, it 


is usual for them to act the same part by all the 
subsequent members of the family. Sponsorship is 
much thought of (though not from a religious point 
of view), and is held to constitute a kind of relation- 
ship — so much so that a man's own children may 
not intermarry with his godchildren. Baptism in 
the Eastern Churches is always by immersion, and 
is immediately followed by the Chrism, or anointing 
with holy oil, which the Greek Church holds to be 
equivalent to the rite of Confirmation in the 
Churches of Western Christendom.* 

The desire for children, and especially sons, is 
intensely strong in the East. For a wife to be 
childless is, among the Moslems, ample reason for 
divorcing her. This longing is closely connected 
with the great aim of all Easterns — viz., ' the 
building up of a house' (cf. 2 Sam. vii. 27 and 
1 Kings xi. 38). The Arabic words for ' son ' and 
4 daughter ' are (as in Hebrew) from the same root 
as the ordinary word for ' to build,' children being 
looked upon as stones, as it were, in a building. 
This feeling has doubtless its origin in the yearning 
for immortality which is found in every human 
being, and of which what is ordinarily called 
ambition is one of the best-known manifestations. 
This idea finds expression in many salutations and 
phrases used in everyday life. ' May God leave 
you your children ' prays the beggar, who hopes 
that you will reward his prayer by a gift ; ' May 

* Circumcision is universally practised among Moham- 
medans. There is no rite connected with it, and no limit of 
time within which it must take place. 


God build your house ' is one of the best blessings 
which a grateful recipient of alms can wish the 
donor ; ' The safety of your children ' is the ordinary 
response to the appropriate salutation at a funeral 
or on hearing of a death. The prophet's sentence 
upon Agag (1 Sam. xv. 33), 'As thy sword hath 
made women childless, so shall thy mother be child- 
less among women,' would to an Oriental be the 
most righteous, and at the same time the most 
terrible retribution, which could follow his crimes. 

The people have but little idea of their children's 
ages, or of their own, for that matter. Ask an old 
man in one of the villages what his age is : ' Well, 
I was married the year Ibrahim Pasha took 
Palestine,' or, ' My second son was born the year 
the cholera came,' will be his answer. Often, when 
inquiring how old a child in one of our schools 
might be, I have been met with the answer, ' How 
can I tell ? You must know, for you baptized him.' 
It is true that the Greek Church keeps a kind of 
record of baptisms, and that of late years the 
Turkish Government has required all births to be 
registered ; yet a good deal of laxity prevails about 
these matters, more especially in the remoter parts 
of the country. If parents know, even approxi- 
mately, their children's ages, it arises from the fact 
of their having been born in a year when some 
event of special interest took place, such as an 
outbreak of cholera, an invasion of locusts, or the 
like. On one occasion I was staying the night with 
a well-to-do peasant in the land of Moab, and in 
the course of the evening a neighbour came in to 


see me. At a break in the conversation, my host 
remarked that his eldest son, a well-grown lad who 
was present, had been ploughing all day. ' Plough- 
ing !' exclaimed the neighbour : ' you shouldn't let 
him do such hard work, he's too young for it.' 
1 He's not too young : he's sixteen.' ' Sixteen ! 
Nonsense ! Why, what year was he born V ' I don't 
know what year it was, but it was the time the red 
donkey died, and that, I'm sure, was sixteen years 
ago !' 

Women often nurse their children for a very long 
time, especially in the case of a first boy or where 
the mother has been long married before having a 
child. Occasionally under such circumstances a 
boy will be nursed for three or four years. This 
custom explains how it was that the child Samuel 
could be left at Shiloh shortly after his mother 
had weaned him (1 Sam. i. 24). When a child is 
weaned, they sometimes cook wheat, lentils, beans, 
and such-like, put sweetmeats on it, and send dishes 
of it to friends to commemorate the event. In like 
manner the Christians at the baptism of a boy 
commonly make a feast, inviting the friends and 
neighbours and officiating priest. # 

Like children all the world over, those of Pales- 
tine, as soon as they can run about, imitate the 
doings of their elders : make mud houses, toy ovens, 
and copy their mothers at work in the house. The 
boys have certain games which they play with zest, 
though not with the energy and precision of English 

* The Moslems occasionally do the same at the circum- 
cision of a child. 


boys. One of these games somewhat resembles our 
hockey, being played with a ball made of rags, 
about the size of a tennis-ball, and curved sticks. 
It is called Kdr, and is played chiefly in the winter. 
A level piece of ground is selected, and a hole called 
'the mother' is made in the centre. One boy 
guards this hole, the others endeavouring to knock 
the ball into it, and he trying to prevent this. It is 
a most exciting game judged by the shouts of the 
players. Another and milder amusement is played 
by three or four boys at a time. Each boy has 
several little darts or arrows which are thick, heavy, 
sharp- pointed, and feathered with pieces of paper. 
A player throws one of these darts so as to make it 
stick upright in the ground ; the next one tries to 
throw his arrow across the first in such a way 
as to knock it over, and at the same time take an 
upright position like that of the first one. If he 
is successful in this, he takes the other player's 
arrow. This game is confined to the winter and 
spring, as it can only be played while the ground 
is soft. 

A third game called Mankalch is played by men 
as well as boys, and has a tremendous fascination 
for the people. It is played on a board with four 
rows of holes, each row having eight holes. Small 
stones are used, each player having a certain 
number, which are distributed according to rule in 
the holes, and the game consists in getting all the 
opponents' pieces. It appears to be a very compli- 
cated game, and I have never had time to master 



the rules. It is played with great zest, and some 
men waste much time over it. # 

In addition to their games, the boys make slings 
with which they hurl stones to a considerable dis- 
tance. Some are very clever at this pastime, and a 
strong lad can send one with tremendous force, and 
a whiz almost like that of a rifle bullet ; so that, after 
seeing them engaged in this amusement, one can 
well understand how formidable a weapon a sling 
would be in the hands of a powerful man of skilful 
aim, especially before the invention of firearms, 
when fighting was at close quarters, if not actually 
hand-to-hand. The slings are made of coarse 
woollen string, with a sort of bag in the centre to 
hold the stone. 

The boys also make little bird-traps of one or 
two twigs and a piece of string. They are baited 
with a berry, or some other food, and just laid on the 
ground in the haunts of the birds. With the same 
object they make limed twigs from mulberry and 
other trees by heating the young shoots over a fire. 

Gambling is strictly forbidden to Moslems, and is 
looked upon by all classes and creeds as very wrong, 
and any game which is in any way associated with 
that vice is entirely avoided by respectable people. 

Education is making great strides among the 

* This game is spread widely throughout the East. At 
Zanzibar, and along the eastern coast of Africa, where it is 
known by the name of Bao, it is much played ; while in 
Uganda, where it has probably been introduced by the Arab 
traders, and is called Mzveso, I have seen the natives spend 
hours over it at one sitting. 


peasantry. The late Bishop Gobat, on his appoint- 
ment to the English bishopric in Jerusalem in 1849, 
found that there were practically no schools at all 
for the Arabic-speaking population, and the means 
which he then took to supply the deficiency have 
been the origin of all the educational work now 
being carried on, as they aroused, first the Oriental 
Churches, and then the Turkish Government, to 
provide schools for the different sections of the 
community. Now, throughout the villages and 
hamlets, schools have been opened in all but the 
very small places, and teachers appointed, in the 
case of the Christians by the various Churches to 
which they belong, and in the case of the Moslems 
by the Ottoman Government. In the latter a 
fairly strict watch is now kept on the attendance of 
the boys, the parents being fined if the children are 
not regular. For the girls, however, there is little 
or no provision apart from the mission schools. 
Among the Mohammedans the teacher is frequently 
also the Khatib, a religious instructor, who is either 
in receipt of a fixed salary from the Government, 
or, by the orders of the latter, receives a certain 
amount (generally in grain) from each family. This 
last arrangement, however, as far as I know, only 
obtains in the smaller hamlets. He also some- 
times combines other occupations with that of 
pedagogue ; thus, in one village I know he is also 
village carpenter, making and mending ploughs, 
and other agricultural implements, in the courtyard 
of the little village mosque, while teaching his 
youthful scholars their letters or the Koran. 


The early age at which the children begin to 
work sadly interferes with their acquiring more 
than an elementary knowledge of the three R's. 
The boys generally begin when very small by 
helping in specially busy times, such as harvest, 
when they drive the grain-laden animals from the 
field to the threshing-floor; or in the olive-gathering, 
when they pick up the fallen berries under the 
trees. When somewhat older they will be trusted 
to take the kids and lambs out to graze near the 
village, or they may go with their fathers to the 
city, driving donkeys laden with corn, wood, etc., 
to sell there. Gradually harder work is given 
them till that of a full-grown man is reached. 

The girls begin, if anything, earlier than the 
boys, often helping at harvest and olive -gathering 
as they do, besides which they very soon assist 
their mothers in the house-work, fetching water 
and wood, baking, cooking, cleaning the corn, and 
doing other things that fall to the lot of the women. 
It is found by experience that unless the girls begin 
early to accustom themselves to carry the heavy 
weights, such as wood, water, etc., which are always 
borne on the head, and the carrying of which forms 
part of a woman's ordinary work, they never can 
acquire the necessary strength and skill to do so. 
This is one of the many practical problems to be 
solved by those who wish to raise the peasant 
women of Palestine, and to give them such an 
education as will fit them to be the helpmeets of 
the rising generation of more educated men. 

The Fellahin have wonderful power of memory, 


due largely, no doubt, to the fact that for centuries 
they have had solely to rely on their memories, as, 
being unable to read or write, they have had no 
extraneous aids. The children have a remarkable 
faculty for learning things by heart, even without 
understanding them. They are very quick in 
acquiring a knowledge of foreign languages, 
especially where these are spoken at all in the 
place where they live.* This, I think, throws 
light on the much-debated question of what 
language our Blessed Lord spoke. In a place 
like Nazareth, so near to, if not actually on, one 
of the great highroads of Western Asia, He would 
have frequent opportunities of hearing at least one 
foreign language (Greek) spoken. In the home of 
the humble carpenter, Aramaic, or whatever the 
Semitic language then spoken in Palestine be 
called, would be that ordinarily used, but in the 
workshop and the market-place Greek would be as 
often heard as the other. My own view is that 
He was as much at home in the one as in the 
other (the same being true, probably, of all the 
Galilean Apostles), but that, in hours of intensest 
feeling, the words which — we may say it with all 
reverence — would naturally come to His lips were 

* The case of a Syrian servant we once had illustrates, 
though from another nation, this facility of acquiring lan- 
guages. She was a peasant from a village in Mesopotamia, 
a woman of no intellectual power whatever, and of very little 
education ; yet she could speak five Oriental languages, 
appearing equally at home in every one, and could read two 
of them. 


those of the tongue which in childhood were learnt 
from the lips of the Virgin Mother. 

From some points of view the family life (not 
home life as we understand it, of which there is 
very little) is much more developed than with us. 
Thus, if a man has several grown-up sons, all will 
often live together. They all till the land together, 
and take their share of looking after the goats and 
sheep. Their interests are all one, and during the 
father's lifetime no son would have anything of his 
own, nor would he claim any share of the property 
or money. Even when one or more of the sons 
marry, they do not go away ; the father builds a 
room for the newly-married couple by the side of 
or on the roof of his own, another being added for 
each son as he marries — the family thus living and 
working as one. Sometimes a father, who is getting 
old and finds himself unable to do his part in tilling 
the ground, will occasionally himself divide his land 
among his sons, who for the remainder of his life 
share in supporting him in an honourable inde- 
pendence. Of course, after a time some have to 
hive off if the family grows numerous, and, owing 
to the increasing poverty of the people, they drift 
to the towns to find work, while many have 
emigrated, more particularly to Egypt and North 
and South America. The people of Bethlehem, 
who are particularly enterprising, are remarkable 
for this spirit of emigration, and there are little 
colonies of them to be found, not only in America, 
but also in Hayti, Australia, East Africa, and other 


The degraded position of woman in Moslem 
lands is too well known to need any detailed 
statement, and in Palestine it is neither better nor 
worse than in most places where Islam holds sway. 
The condition of the Moslem Felahah, or peasant 
woman, is, however, as a rule decidedly less irksome 
than that of her town sister. With the exception 
of those living in the extreme South, on the borders 
of the Egyptian frontier, and of the Baraghafeh 
(previously mentioned), the peasant women are 
always unveiled. They are much more the equals 
of their husbands than is the case with the towns- 
people. The latter often know nothing whatever 
about their husband's concerns, being shut up in 
the Harim, or women's quarters, all day, or only 
going out to see other women similarly circum- 
stanced. They are the toys, drudges, slaves, 
chattels, of their husbands, never his companions 
or equals. It is otherwise with the country-woman ; 
the very conditions of her life compel her to be 
more to her husband than the towns-woman. She 
knows all about his work, suffers in his losses, 
rejoices in his gains ; she helps to till the soil, 
gather in the harvest, and sell the produce of the 
land in the towns ; occasionally, even, she rules 
the whole family. Still, when all is said and done, 
the position of woman among Mohammedans is a 
fearfully low one ; she is looked upon as hardly a 
human being, soundly thrashed whenever she dis- 
pleases her lord and master, and is liable to be 
divorced any moment, or superseded by a younger 
and better-looking wife, at his mere caprice. 


There is a curious expression — ' Far be it from 
you ' — used by the Arabs when speaking of any- 
thing not very nice. Thus, a man was once 
describing to me one of the old Roman bridges 
over the Jordan, and enlarging on the traffic which 
crossed it, ' thousands of camels, tens of thousands 
of sheep, and, far be it from you, quantities of pigs.' 
Sometimes in a Moslem village a man has come to 
me saying, ' Will you give me some medicine for a 
sick person V ' Do you want it for yourself V * No ; 
for someone else.' ' For a child V ' No ; far be it 
from you, for my wife !' 

The real cause of the degradation of woman is 
the permission given by the Mohammedan law to 
polygamy, and as long as the practice has the 
sanction of religion, so long must woman be kept 
down. On the other hand, one great reason of the 
comparatively favourable condition of the peasant 
women is that polygamy is much less common in 
the villages than in the towns. This is chiefly due 
to the poverty of the people, as but few can afford 
to pay the dowry of more than one wife ; indeed, 
an increasing number of young men are from this 
cause unable to marry at all. Even the Moslems 
are alive to the fact that polygamy is a fruitful 
source of trouble and sorrow in families. Says 
one of their proverbs, ' Two logs on the hearth and 
two wives in a house ' — that is, keep up the fire 
which would go out were there only one ; while a 
second runs, ' One wife in a house builds it up, a 
second pulls it down, and a third is all that is vile.' 

Though what has been said above refers to the 


Moslem women, and though, of course, the con- 
dition of Christians is in many ways much better, 
yet the whole attitude of the men towards women 
is that of a superior to a greatly inferior race, and 
it is impossible but that the degradation of the vast 
majority of the women of a country, especially 
where they are of the dominant religion, must 
affect injuriously the position of woman generally 
throughout the country. 

It is only right to add that, while Mohammedan 
law gives the utmost facility to divorce, there are 
various circumstances which tend to check it, 
such as the fear of offending the wife's relations, 
especially if she belong to an influential family.* 
Occasionally, too, there is real affection between 
husband and wife. I knew of a case where a 
Moslem peasant became a leper, and his wife's 
friends repeatedly urged her to leave him ; but she 
persistently refused, saying that he had always 
been a good husband to her, and that she would 
not desert him in his trouble. She remained with 
him, and carefully tended him, till his death. This 
was all the more remarkable as not only the 
Mohammedans, but also the Greeks, consider that 
when a married person becomes a leper the 
marriage bond is ipso facto dissolved, and the latter 

* Among the very few really aristocratic Moslem families 
of Jerusalem there exists a kind of code of honour which 
forbids them to have more than one wife or to divorce her, 
and I have reason to believe that this is strictly observed 
even where the woman is childless. Of course this does not 
affect the question of female slaves. 


allows the other partner to marry again, even while 
the leprous wife or husband is still living. 

Divorce is allowed by the Greek Church, but, as 
far as I know, by none of the other Oriental com- 
munions found in Palestine. There are various 
restrictions in the Greek canon law on the subject, 
which are intended to safeguard it, but as a 
matter of fact there is no great difficulty in any- 
one obtaining a divorce, and T have known several 
cases of people being remarried even without that 


domestic life {continued). 

When the son or daughter of a family approaches 
a marriageable age, the parents begin to set about 
the all -important business of finding a suitable 
bride or bridegroom. The matter is almost in- 
variably arranged by the parents, the young people 
having no voice in the matter ; indeed, it would 
not be considered proper for a young woman to 
have any say in the matter, or to express a 
preference for one suitor over another. The only 
exception to this rule would be in the case of a 
man who, from poverty, had been unable to marry 
till he reached middle life, or who had no male 
relations to arrange the matter for him. 

Where the father is dead, the eldest brother, 
or, failing a brother, the nearest male relation, 
has the disposal of a girl's hand. In the Greek 
Church the prohibited degrees (within which 
relations may not marry) are much wider than 
in the Churches of Western Christendom, ex- 
tending to cousins several times removed, and 
even to one or two cases where there is no blood 
relationship at all. But outside these prohibited 



degrees relations or persons of the same house or 
clan are held to have a first claim on a girl's hand, 
and it would sometimes lead to serious quarrels, 
and even to possible bloodshed, were this claim 
ignored. The origin of this custom is probably 
the idea underlying certain enactments of the 
Mosaic law — viz., the retention of property in the 
clan or tribe (cf. Num. xxxvi. 1-12). 

The preliminary negotiations are sometimes very 
lengthy. If a man wishes to get a bride for his 
son from another family or village, he will not un- 
frequently employ one or more intermediaries to 
arrange the matter. These intermediaries will go 
to the house of the girl in question at a time when 
some of the men of the family are sure to be at 
home. They will stand about the door till the 
latter notice them, and invite them in, according 
to Eastern custom, with the word TaffadhlCi 
(literally, ' do me the honour '). They will then 
reply, ' We will not enter unless our request is 
granted.' " It is granted,' reply those within ; 
whereon the men enter. When they are seated, 
the question is not immediately mentioned, but 
when the customary coffee appears they say, 
' We will not drink till we have told our errand.' 
' Speak,' reply the hosts. ' We ask your daughter 
So-and-so as wife to So-and-so,' say the guests. 
Sometimes, if the match be manifestly an advan- 
tageous one for the girl, the relations say, ' We 
agree ; take her.' More often, while agreeing, they 
require time to arrange preliminaries ; and even if 
the proposal be unacceptable, it is, I believe, rarely 


if ever met by a direct refusal ; but in the subse- 
quent negotiations some condition impossible of 
fulfilment, such as an exorbitant dowry, is required, 
which puts an end to the matter. 

The preliminaries having been satisfactorily 
settled, the betrothal takes place. Among the 
Christians this is a formal public announcement 
of the intended marriage. Friends and relations 
attend, and the priest comes and blesses the 
betrothed couple, the betrothal, in fact, being a 
religious ceremony. It is consequently very rare 
for a match to be broken off when once this 
ceremony has taken place. It may be considered 
as the Eastern substitute for the publication of 
banns, these being unknown in the Oriental 
Churches, and the wedding may take place any day 
after the betrothal. The betrothal may, on the 
other hand, be an informal one in infancy, and I 
have known children to be plighted to each other 
in their cradles by their parents, and the promise 
thus made to be carried out when they grew up. 

In most cases the girls are virtually sold by their 
parents, the dowry going to the father, and it is 
this which makes the birth of a girl so much 
more welcome among the Fellahm than among 
the towns-people, where the dowry does not go to 
the parents. Considerable sums are paid for girls 
who are good-looking, well connected, or clever at 
any of the Fellahm industries. Thus, the people 
of the village of El Jib (the ancient Gibeon), near 
Jerusalem, have a monopoly of the manufacture of 
a kind of earthenware cooking-pot. The work is 


largely done by the women, and a girl who is clever 
at this will fetch a dowry of seventy or eighty 
Napoleons (£50 to £60), while another, who has 
only ordinary abilities, can be had for half that 
sum. As a rule, the bridegroom has to borrow 
money for the dowry and wedding expenses, and 
many men thus saddle themselves with debts which 
are a burden to them for the rest of their lives. In 
cases where a man has little or no money, or his 
credit is not good enough to enable him to borrow 
sufficient to pay the dowry of an unmarried girl, he 
will marry a widow, as a much smaller sum is 
required in such cases, especially if she have 

Another device is not unfrequently resorted to 
by poor people. Yakub, for instance, wants to 
marry, but has no prospect whatever of raising 
even a moderate sum of money. He has, however, 
an unmarried sister, Latifeh, so he looks about for 
a family similarly circumstanced to his own, and 
finds another man, Salameh, who is also desirous of 
entering the married state, but who, like Yakub, is 
too poor to do so. He, too, has an unmarried sister, 
Zarifeh, and so an exchange is arranged between 
the two families, Yakub marrying Zarifeh, and 
Salameh Latifeh, no dowry being paid on either 

On the day of the wedding, if the bride lives at a 
different village to the bridegroom, the villagers go 
in great pomp, especially if the two parties belong- 
to influential families, to escort her to the bride- 
groom's house. Every man who owns or can 


boiTOW a horse rides it and gallops wildly about. 
There is a great expenditure of gunpowder on such 
occasions, and curious old-fashioned weapons of 
every country of Europe, and of almost every 
period since the invention of gunpowder, are 
hunted out and fired off at frequent intervals, so 
that at a distance a Westerner, hearing a wedding- 
procession for the first time, might think that a 
miniature battle was in progress. The people when 
using modern weapons are not always careful to 
make sure that they have only blank cartridges. 
On one occasion I was riding along the road from 
Bethany to Jerusalem as a wedding-procession was 
making its way down the Valley of Jehoshaphat to 
the village of Siloam. The usual firing was going 
on, and a bullet from a rifle whistled just over my 
head ; and not very long ago, in a Christian village 
near Jerusalem, a young man standing at his house 
door to watch such a procession was accidentally 
shot dead by one of the party. 

Weddings very commonly take place at night 
(see St. Matt. xxv. 1-13), both in the case of 
Christians and Moslems. The wedding-ceremony 
is, of course, where they are Christians, according 
to the rites of the Church to which they belong. 
Before this takes place the bridegroom is frequently 
placed on a horse and escorted round the village by 
his friends. At the ceremony the bride is closely 
veiled, no one being allowed to see her face. 

In the case of Moslem weddings, all preliminaries 
having been finished, three witnesses go to the 
house of the bride's father : the latter then asks the 


girl before the witnesses, ■ Whom do you make 
your representative in the matter of your marriage ?' 
To which she replies, ' You, father.' This question 
is thus asked and answered three times. The father 
and witnesses then proceed to the house of the 
Khatib, when the latter asks the father, ' Whom do 
you make your agent (or representative) in the 
matter of your daughter's marriage V You,' 
answers the man. This is also asked three times. 
They all then go to the bridegroom's house, and 
the latter stands, hand in hand with the father, 
before the Khatib. The Khatib first addresses 
the father and asks him thrice, ' Have you, 
Mohammed, given Fatimeh, the daughter of 
Mohammed, to Mustapha to be her lawful husband 
according to the belief of Abu Hanifeh ?' The 
father, each time the question is asked, replies, 
1 1 have given her.' Then, turning to the bride- 
groom, the Khatib says, ' Have you, Mustapha, 
taken Fatimeh, the daughter of Mohammed, to be 
her lawful husband according to the belief of Abu 
Hanifeh ?' This is also asked thrice, the bridegroom 
each time replying, * I have taken her.' The Khatib 
then reads the Fatihah, or opening chapter of the 
Koran, and the ceremony is over. 

A feast generally takes place on the evening of 
the wedding, and the invited guests have to bring 
presents ; a list of these and of their value is 
made, and when there is a wedding in the family 
of any of the donors, the bridegroom of this occasion 
has to give a present of similar value. 

The women of the village gather at the house 


where the wedding takes place, and dance. This is 
scarcely what we understand by the term, but it 
has a great fascination for the Fellahat, and many 
of them will neglect everything for it when there 
happens to be a wedding going on. 1 need hardly 
say that the promiscuous dancing of Europe is 
quite unknown in Palestine, and would be con- 
sidered, to say the least, highly improper. The 
men and women form different groups, and the 
dances consist of rhythmical movements of the 
body by each dancer, singly or holding each 
others' hands ; this accompanied by clapping of 
hands and singing, which latter consists of the 
constant repetition on one or two notes of a few 
words, often foolish, and sometimes worse. At 
a wedding I once witnessed in a village, the 
dancers, for half an hour or more, repeated without 
intermission the words, ■ Oh, coffee-maker, put up 
your cups and coffee.' I have also seen a kind of 
sword-dance performed at a wedding. In this case 
a large fire was lighted at night in the centre of an 
open space in the village. All the people were 
gathered in a wide ring round the fire, and in the 
space between, a sister of the bride, gorgeously 
dressed, performed a dance, holding a drawn 
sword in one hand, and posturing and side- 
ling about in stiff, ungraceful attitudes, the men 
accompanying her movements with hand-clapping 
and shouting. Occasionally, I believe, the bride 
herself will come out and dance, but I have never 
myself seen this done. I have, however, seen a 
sort of effigy of the bride called Zarufe/i, consisting 



of some of her clothes stuffed with straw in the 
form of a person, fastened to a pole, and carried by 
a man who makes it appear to dance in the midst 
of the wedding-guests. 

AVhen the bride comes to her husband's house, 
she has, before entering, to place a piece of leavened 
dough on the doorpost. This act is a wish that 
as the leaven placed in a mass of dough increases 
till the whole of the mass is leavened, so she may 
have a numerous family, and by her the clan may 
grow and be increased. With the same idea she 
must go early the following morning and draw water, 
wearing under the outer garment a white garment 
with the edge frayed out, the many threads typify- 
ing a numerous posterity. Another custom is that 
of placing on the bride's head a jar of water, which 
she is to carry thus into the house, the idea being, 
probably, that of doing her part of the household 
work. If she be too tall to pass under the doorway 
with the jar on her head, an egg is substituted for it. 

A bride is often carried over the threshold that 
her feet may not touch it, to do so being considered 

It is said that as a Druze bride enters her hus- 
band's door he gives her a smart blow with a stick, 
to show that she is under his rule and authority. 

In some parts of the country neither bride nor 
bridegroom may cross a stream for a period of 
seven days after the wedding, as this would be 
most unlucky, and would mean the cutting off of 
the succession, the Arabic idiom for crossing a 
stream being that of cutting it. 


There are various superstitions connected with 
weddings. Thus, among Moslems the marriage 
ceremony is conducted very quietly, and in the 
presence of as few people as possible, as, if anyone 
should be there who is unfavourable to the match, 
it is thought that he has the power to hinder the 
happiness of the married couple by various acts. 
Thus, smoking during the ceremony is considered 
to destroy all happiness, and strewing flour or 
earth on the floor at the time buries it completely. 

Sometimes at the last moment the parents or re- 
lations will change their minds, and give the girl to 
some other man than the one she had been betrothed 
to. Thus one of their proverbs runs, ' The bride is 
in her chamber, but no one knows whose she will 
be ' ; and another is, ' One was betrothed to her, but 
the other married her.' I knew of a case where a 
young couple were betrothed to each other and 
everything was settled : the marriage-day came, 
and all was in readiness, and just before the time 
for the ceremony to take place the bridegroom, 
according to a common custom, went to have a 
bath. When he came to the house, he found that 
during the short time he had been absent the 
father had changed his mind, and had already 
married the bride to another man. Such actions, 
however, are considered rather a disgrace, and in 
some cases will lead to serious quarrels, and even 
to bloodshed. 

Many of the women are extensively tattooed in 
various patterns on the back of the hand, wrist, 
forearm, upper part of the chest, and face ; 



especially is this the case among the women east 
of the Jordan. Some of them even tattoo their 
lips, but this disfiguring custom is, as far as I 
know, confined entirely to the Moslem women. 
It is only those with fairer skins than the others 
who do this, the idea being that it shows up the 
clearness and whiteness of the complexion, thus 
enhancing their beauty. Some of the patterns are 
very elaborate, and must take a long time to do. 
The tattooing is usually done by gipsy women, who 
use ordinary ink to rub into the pattern, which is 
of permanent dark blue. Although chiefly seen in 
the case of women, it is not by any means confined 
to them. 

The life of a newly-married girl, where families 
live together, is often a very hard one. She is 
usually in such cases little else than the slave of 
her mother-in-law, and this is a frequent cause of 
quarrels and unhappiness, especially, perhaps, among 
the Christians. There is usually but little love 
between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, and 
the former often behave most tyrannically towards 
their sons' wives, remembering, no doubt, what 
they suffered in their early married life, just as the 
former slave makes the most cruel slave-driver. 
This is reflected in their proverbs ; one of these, in 
which the mother-in-law is supposed to address her 
daughter-in-law, runs, ' Don't eat what is broken 
nor break what is whole, and eat till you are 
satisfied '; while another declares that ' were the 
mother-in-law to love her daughter-in-law, dogs 
would enter Paradise.' 


domestic life (continued) 

The life of the women is not an easy one, and 
their work begins when they are quite young. In 
the early morning a woman rises to grind the corn 
for the day's supply of bread, and the grinding 
goes on at intervals throughout the day. This 
work is very severe, especially where there are 
many mouths to feed, and in the villages one hears 
the hum of the millstones early in the morning, 
long before daybreak, and far on into the night 
also. A strong woman once told me that it took 
her five hours every day to grind the corn for her 
family, which was not a particularly large one. 
This hum of the millstones is exceedingly character- 
istic of the villages, so much so that the Fellahin 
have a special word for it. There are allusions 
to it both in the Old and New Testaments ; thus, 
the sound of the grinding being low would be an 
indication of weakness and old age (Eccles. xii. 4) ; 
while to an Oriental no more striking figure of 
absolute desolation could be imagined than that 
1 the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more 
at all in thee' (Rev. xviii. 22). 



The hand-mills which are used for this purpose 
have two flat circular stones, the upper and the 
nether millstones. These stones are made of a 
hard black basalt which is brought from the 
volcanic district of the Lejah (Trachonitis), near 
the borders of the Hauran, the ancient Bashan. 
They are from 15 to 18 inches in diameter and 
very heavy. The lower stone has a small hole in 
the centre into which a wooden plug is firmly 
driven, and in this plug an iron pin is fixed, to 
serve as a pivot, on which the upper stone turns. 
This latter has an aperture of two or three inches 
in the middle, and across this a piece of hard wood 
is fixed by means of a slot in the upper surface 
of the stone, a hole in it admitting the above- 
mentioned pivot. A small space is thus left on 
either side of this piece of wood, through which 
the corn is fed. Near the edge of the upper stone 
is fixed the wooden handle by which the mill is 
turned. Sometimes the lower stone is bedded in 
an oblong clay vessel, one half of which is lower 
than the other, the millstones occupying the upper 
part, the lower being a receptacle for the flour. 
Where this is not used, a cloth is spread on the 
ground, and on th ; s the mill is placed, the flour 
gradually collecting in a ring round it. 

In grinding, the woman sits on the floor with 
outstretched feet, and the mill between her knees ; 
she has a basket of corn beside her, and, as she 
turns the handle, puts at intervals a handful of 
grain into the hole of the upper stone, generally 
crooning a mournful song as she works. A second 



Tofacepagi lis. 


woman often helps, squatting on the ground 
opposite her companion, and turning the handle at 
the same time. This helps one to realize the 
startling suddenness of the call (St. Matt. xxiv. 41) 
when, of two thus sitting face to face over the 
same household task, hand touching hand, one will 
be gone and the other left alone. 

We see the humanity of the prohibition (Deut. 
xxiv. 6) of taking a millstone to pledge, when we 
realize that the poorest family must have a mill, 
with whatever else of household furniture they 
may dispense, and that the loss of it would be 
practically starvation. 

When sufficient flour has been ground, the opera- 
tion of bread-making follows. The meal is often, 
but not invariably, passed through a sieve ; it is then 
mixed with salt and water, and kneaded into a some- 
what stiff dough, in which state it is taken to the 
oven in a wooden bowl. Leaven (yeast is unknown) 
is occasionally used, and in that case the dough 
has to be made some hours beforehand, to allow it 
to rise. The leaven, which is in the form of a 
piece of sour or fermented dough from a previous 
baking, is kneaded into the fresh material, which 
is placed in a warm corner, and the whole is ere 
long leavened. 

The oven in the villages consists of a dome-shaped 
clay vessel, three or four feet in diameter, open at 
its broad end, and having a hole in the centre of 
the dome large enough to easily admit a woman's 
hand and arm. It might be compared to a very 
large, shallow, inverted basin, with the bottom 


knocked out. This is placed on a pavement of 
small stones, and has a lid to cover the aperture 
while the bread is baking. This oven is made in a 
small hut built for the purpose, seven or eight feet 
in diameter, and about five or six feet high in the 
middle. These ovens are a favourite meeting-place 
for the women of the village in cold or wet weather, 
and at such times they will often spend hours there. 

When the fire has been lit, and the oven is 
warm enough, the dough is made into flat cakes 
about the size of a dinner-plate, and about half an 
inch thick ; it is then laid on the paved floor of the 
oven or made to adhere to the clay vessel, being 
turned when sufficiently done on one side. 

The fire is made outside the oven, and when the 
dough has been placed inside the lid is put on, and 
the ashes heaped up over it to keep in the warmth, 
and to allow the fuel to smoulder, a gentle sustained 
heat being the best for the purpose. 

The fuel consists chiefly of dried cows' and goats' 
dung, which is carefully collected and stored for 
the purpose. The use of this fuel is of very ancient 
origin, as we see from Ezek. iv. 12, and the custom 
in Palestine to-day shows how the prophet would 
understand the command. Sometimes this fuel is 
used in its natural condition, but it is generally 
prepared by being moistened with water, mixed 
with straw, and made into cakes, which are dried 
and stored for winter use. For this purpose they 
employ the coarser parts of the straw from the 
threshing-floors, viz., the joints and lower parts of 
the stalks. 


It is usual at the present day for several families 
to share an oven, each one providing the fuel for a 
day in turn. The reason of this is the poverty of 
the people, and their consequent inability to get 
fuel. Four or five families usually join together 
now, and for ten women to bake their bread in one 
oven (Lev. xxvi. 26) would be an indication of 
abject poverty. There is a regular rotation in the 
use of the oven, the woman whose turn it is to 
provide the fuel being the last to bake her bread 
on that particular day. The idea in this is that 
if she used the oven earlier, she would, her own 
baking finished, in order to save her fuel, let 
the fire get too low to do the rest of the bread 
properly, whereas, baking last of all, it is to her 
interest to keep up a good fire to the end. In cases 
where a man is sufficiently well off to own a number 
of cattle, and has, consequently, plenty of fuel, he 
will have an oven to himself. 

In some parts of the country another kind of 
bread is made, closely resembling the thin oatcake 
of Scotland and the North of England. This is 
prepared somewhat differently from the other ; the 
dough is less tenacious, and it is baked, not in an 
oven, but on a convex circular plate of iron, heated 
by a fire of sticks below. The large thin sheets of 
dough are laid for a few moments on this pan, and 
very quickly cooked. 

Bread is usually made of wheat flour, but failing 
this the poor often use that made from the white 
millet, and even from barley, or they mix herbs and 
other things with it in times of scarcity. 


Bread constitutes the chief food of the people, 
being eaten either alone, as in the case of the very- 
poor, or with a few figs, olives, or some other relish, 
in other cases. 

A great many wild plants are eaten, which the 
poor dig up in the fields in the spring ; the mallow 
is the principal of these, as it was in the time of 
Job, 3,500 years ago (Job xxx. 4). I have, indeed, 
known of a whole family, in a time of great scarcity 
and poverty, subsisting for many weeks on mallows 
alone. They are cut off at the roots and boiled. 
They are also mixed with flour to eke out the 
latter, and baked into bread. 

Among the more sedentary occupations of the 
women is that of cleaning the corn. The various 
processes described under threshing and winnowing 
leave a good deal of rubbish mixed up with the grain, 
such as tiny stones and hard nodules of earth from 
the threshing-floor, seeds of weeds and other plants, 
and light and undeveloped grain, all of which have 
to be carefully separated from the corn before it 
can be ground. This is partly done by a sieve, 
which allows the smaller impurities to pass through, 
but the larger foreign bodies have to be picked out 
by hand or removed by sifting. This is effected 
by shaking the sieve with a peculiar circular motion, 
which gradually collects the light grains, bits of 
straw, seeds, etc., to one spot at the side furthest 
from the woman holding it, when by a dexterous 
jerk they are all thrown out, and the corn left 
clean. The reference in Amos ix. 9 is to this 
cleansing process, whereas in St. Luke xxii. 31 the 


sifting was to be that of temptation, which Satan 
hoped would prove the Apostles to be but light 
grain, and therefore rejected. 

After the grinding of the corn is over, other 
domestic duties will claim the housewife's attention ; 
one of these is washing the family clothes. This, in 
order to save the trouble of fetching water, is gener- 
ally done at the spring or near the well. Cold water 
is almost invariably employed by the peasants, and in 
the winter and spring they often take advantage of 
pools left by the rain in various spots, to get rid of 
arrears of washing. On such occasions they generally 
go in considerable numbers, and a great deal of gossip 
and scandal goes on, if we judge by the proverb : ' It 
is better to sit between two funerals than between 
two washerwomen.' 

Soap is but sparingly used, wood ashes, a kind ot 
sandy clay, and sometimes the maiden-hair fern, 
which is very abundant in damp places, taking its 
place very largely. The wet garments are also 
beaten well with a heavy piece of wood, a process 
which drives the water forcibly through the pores 
of the material, and no doubt aids considerably in 
the cleansing process. 

Matches are pretty generally used now by the 
people for obtaining a light, but flint and steel are 
still by no means uncommon, and are frequently 
used by men for producing fire for their pipes. 
The first matches were brought to the village of 
Bir Zeit, already mentioned, many years ago by a 
young man. He had had occasion to go to Lydd 
in the maritime plain, and in the market there 


saw matches for the first time. They were then 
sold singly, or two for a small coin in value rather 
less than a farthing ; so the young man invested in 
eight of them, and the next day, on his return 
home, he gathered all the men of the village in the 
evening in the guest-house, and having told them 
about the matches, he produced the eight, and 
solemnly struck them one after another in their 
presence, to their great surprise and wonder. 

As a rule the women cook pretty well, consider- 
ing the roughness and fewness of their utensils. 
The Fellahin have ordinarily only one regular meal 
in the day — viz., that in the evening. If food is 
taken at other times, it is a piece of bread only, a 
few figs, a bunch of grapes, or a cup of coffee. 
They have no meal corresponding to our break- 
fast, and often go to their day's work without eating 
anything ; this fact will explain our Blessed Lord's 
hunger when, after, perhaps, a night spent in prayer, 
He sought fruit on the barren fig-tree, although 
He had just come from the house of the hospitable 
Martha (St. Matt. xxi. 17-19). 1 was riding out 
one afternoon to a village, several hours' journey from 
Jerusalem, and about halfway overtook a peasant. 
After a little conversation, he asked me if I had 
any bread with me, as he had walked into the city 
that morning from a place some twenty-five miles 
distant, had transacted his business there, and had 
now got about halfway back, no food having passed 
his lips since his supper the previous evening. 

As the afternoon begins to wane, the Fellahah 
will begin her preparations for the evening meal. 

DIET 125 

If the family be well enough off to have rice, or 
if guests be expected, she will take two or three 
handfuls of that grain from the jar in which it is 
stored, and, after carefully washing it, will place it 
in a tinned copper vessel without handles, and set 
it to cook over a fire of sticks between two stones 
in a corner of the courtyard of the house, or, if 
the weather be wet, over a small fire of char- 
coal in a little clay brazier inside the house. 
Perhaps some meat, with tomatoes, onions, or other 
vegetables, will be set on to cook in another pot, 
or the vegetables alone ; for every family, however 
poor, tries to have a little ' cooking ' for the evening 
meal — that is, a hot dish, even if only boiled vege- 
tables or herbs, into which to dip the dry bread. 
Lentils are a very favourite article of diet, and 
where people are too poor to get meat for a festival, 
or other occasion of rejoicing, they at least try to 
have a dish of this vegetable. The meat is usually 
boiled, but sometimes at a feast they roast it ; 
fowls, too, are occasionally split open and roasted 
in the oven where the bread is baked. 

The supper is eaten soon after sunset, all those 
present partaking together, if not too many to do 
so at one time, but if too numerous they do so in 
relays. When the food is ready, if there are many 
people, a large bowl or dish is filled with Bti/rghal 
(cracked wheat) or boiled rice, should the family 
be comfortably off ; the meat, if any, is placed on 
the rice, and the gravy, in which there is always 
salt, is poured over it, or placed in small bowls for 
the people to help themselves as they please. If 


there be no meat, Lcbcn (sour milk) or boiled vege- 
tables are served in separate vessels with it, to 
moisten and give a flavour to the rice. At a feast 
both meat and vegetables will be used. 

The tray or dish is placed in the middle of the 
floor, and loaves of bread are put round it. Having 
previously washed their hands, the guests, or 
members of the family, squat round the bowl, and 
as they plunge their hands into the mass, if Moslems, 
they say ' BismiUah* (In the name of God); if 
Christians, they use some other formula showing 
their creed. They take up lumps of food with 
the right hand (it not being proper to use the left, 
more especially among the Moslems), adroitly rolling 
up the rice or wheat with the fingers so as not to 
drop any grains on the way to the mouth. Spoons 
are coming more and more into use, especially 
among those who have come much into contact 
with Europeans. Large draughts of water are 
drunk, but only towards the end of the meal. If 
there are guests, especially if any of them be of 
honourable estate, the master of the house waits on 
them while they eat, and however good the food 
may be, or however abundant, he usually apologizes 
for the poor supper he has offered them, and urges 
them to eat more. When they have finished, he 
and the family, or the less-distinguished guests, 
take their places round the bowl. Should no 
strangers be present the whole household eats to- 
gether, but if there are male guests the women do 
not eat with them, but have their meal afterwards 
in another room. After eating the hands are washed 


again with soap and water, the water being poured 
over the hands by a servant or one of the family 
(see 2 Kings hi. 11). In the case of guests the 
host will often perform this office for them, handing 
them a towel or cloth with which to wipe the 
hands after washing. Supper over, pipes are lit 
and unsweetened coffee handed round. 

When the Fellahin are on a journey or out at 
work in the fields, they content themselves with 
dry bread eaten with a few figs, raisins, or such 
like, to give flavour to this otherwise tasteless fare. 
The two little fishes which the lad, probably a 
shepherd-boy, had with his five barley loaves that 
spring day by the Sea of Galilee, when Jesus fed 
the five thousand, were, as the Greek (Suo oxpapia, 
St. John vi. 9) shows, food of this latter kind — two 
of the tiny dried fish, plentiful then as to-day, 
and cheap enough for one even as poor as he to 

The men smoke a great deal of tobacco in small 
pipes of reddish-brown clay, with wooden stems, 
varying in length from a few inches to three or 
four feet. These pipes are, however, being largely 
supplanted by cigarettes, the papers for making 
them being imported in little books or packets, 
and sold everywhere. The nargileh, or hubble- 
bubble, is also much smoked, by women as well 
as men, a special kind of tobacco, imported from 
Persia, being used. It is customary to offer these 
to the principal guests on the occasion of formal 
visits, as at funerals, weddings, etc. 

But the woman's work does not end with the 


more strictly domestic labours we have already 
described. Drawing water has ever been in the 
East essentially a woman's work, and in the early 
morning and evening, especially, the women and 
girls go down to the fountains or wells to fetch 
the supply for the house. This is brought in 
earthenware jars containing 1 to 2 gallons, or 
in water-skins, the former being carried on the 
head, and the latter slung on the back by a cord 
passing over the forehead. The water when brought 
is emptied into a large earthen jar standing in 
one corner of the room. In cases, which are very 
numerous, where the village is on a high hill a long 
distance from the water-supply, this work is very 
arduous, and must tend to shorten the lives of the 

Bringing the supply of firewood is another duty 
which falls to the lot of the women, and entails 
severe labour. In some districts the firewood is 
obtained from scrub some miles distant, and parties 
of women and girls may be met, bearing on their 
heads long, heavy faggots of boughs of oak, tere- 
binth, arbutus, etc. In other parts, where no scrub 
or wood is found, they collect bundles of the Netesh 
thorn, or the white-flowered broom, called Retem, 
the 'juniper' of 1 Kings xix. 5 (the Arabic and 
Hebrew names for the plant being the same), a 
shrub very characteristic of the comparatively upper 
slopes of the hills leading down to the Jordan Valley. 
In the maritime plain and other parts, where the 
dhurra, or white millet {Sorghum vulgare), is much 
grown, the dry stalks left in the fields after the ripe 



To face page 128. 


ears have been cut off are collected and stacked 
about their houses for use as fuel in the winter- 

The women all know something of needlework, 
and some of them are very skilful at it. The 
ordinary work, such as is required in making their 
everyday clothes, does not call for remark ; but 
some of the gala dresses are very handsome, with 
much fine needlework on them. The veil worn 
over the head by the women of some villages has 
this kind of work in it. These veils are made of 
a very coarse kind of native cotton cloth, and are 
worked with various patterns and devices in coloured 
cottons and silks. This work much resembles 
that of the old-fashioned « samplers,' which I can 
remember seeing, in my boyish days, old women 
making in some rural districts of England, and 
which may still be occasionally seen framed and 
hung up in country cottages. Some of the devices 
on these veils are very elaborate. 

In some of the gala dresses worn by the peasant 
women there is in front a piece of elaborate needle- 
work in various colours, of which the accompanying 
photograph will give some idea. This takes a long 
time to make, and girls who are betrothed busy 
themselves for months before the wedding in work- 
ing at these dresses, which are often worth a 
considerable sum of money. 

The women generally are very fond of fancy 
needlework, and the teaching of it in mission-schools 
is one of the best ways of attracting otherwise 
unwilling scholars. In the Lebanon the women 



used to be very skilful in a fine kind of embroidery, 
or needlework, on a thin, light material. These 
embroidered veils or scarves were reversible — that 
is to say, there was no wrong side, the pattern 
being so cleverly worked that it was the same on 
both sides of the material. Beautiful specimens of 
this work can be occasionally met with still, and they 
command high prices. The spoils of needlework of 
divers colours on both sides, which Sisera's mother 
pictured her triumphant son as bringing back 
with him after the battle with Barak and Israel 
(Judg. v. 30), may very likely have been work of 
this description. 

The Fellahat are very fond of ornament, and, 
where they can afford it, wear a great deal of 
jewellery. On their wrists and arms they have 
heavy bracelets, and on their fingers thick clumsy 
rings. These ornaments are made of silver, but 
most of it has a high percentage of alloy. In addi- 
tion to these bracelets and other ornaments they 
wear rows of coins on their head-dresses. The 
original object of this latter custom, and also, no 
doubt, partly of that of wearing jewellery, was the 
safe custody of their money. It is only of recent 
years that there have been any banks in Palestine, 
and these, of course, have been confined to the few 
towns ; and even where they have existed, their 
management has by no means been always such as 
to inspire the natives of the country with confidence. 
Consequently women have for ages invested their 
money in jewellery, or put it on their head-dress, 
which neither a creditor nor the Government could 


touch, though the woman herself could use it. 
One of the commonest methods of raising money 
is for a woman to pledge her ornaments, and 
no disgrace whatever attaches to such a trans- 



domestic life {continued) 

Lebex, or sour or curdled milk, has been mentioned 
more than once. This is made chiefly in the spring, 
when, owing to the abundance of pasture, milk is 
plentiful. It closely resembles our curds and whey, 
and is made by the women by putting into the 
fresh milk either some old dried Leben, kept for the 
purpose, or else rennet made from the stomach of a 
kid, and not from the calf, as with us. The Arabic 
name Leben is given it on account of its whiteness, 
and is from the same root as the word ' Lebanon.' 
that, again, being applied to the two mountain 
ranges bearing that name because of their spotless 
brilliancy when covered with the snows of winter. 
It is, when clean and properly made, very nice, the 
slightly acid taste being peculiarly grateful to a hot 
and tired person in that warm climate, and is said 
to have in such circumstances a soporific effect. 

Cheese is also made in a similar manner by 
means of rennet, and pressed into small hard cakes, 
something like our cream cheeses, but firmer and 
not so rich. 

Churning butter is another occupation of the 



women, chiefly in the spring and early .summer. 
The milk is put into a large skin, similar to those 
used for carrying water ; this is then suspended be- 
tween the legs of a tripod of sticks. Two women 
usually do the work of churning by pushing the 
skin backwards and forwards between them ; the 
splashing about of the milk in the skin, which must 
not be filled too full, gradually separates the butter. 
Much of this butter is not used as such, but is 
clarified by heating over the fire, a kind of saffron 
being added which gives it a yellow tint, and a 
peculiar flavour very distasteful to most Europeans, 
but to which one gets accustomed after a time. 
This clarified butter, or Semaneh, is stored in jars 
or skins for future use, being largely employed in 
cookery for frying meat, eggs, vegetables, etc., 
and for mixing with the boiled rice. Failing this 
Semaneh, the fat of the tail of the Oriental sheep is 
much used. These fat tails, common to several 
varieties of sheep in Syria, Egypt, Arabia, and 
East Africa, are considered very valuable for 

But besides these more or less directly domestic 
duties, the peasant women work hard in other 
ways. Many of the Fellahin make their living by 
growing fruit and vegetables for the towns, and 
most mornings of the week crowds of Fellahat may 
be seen coming into the towns carrying on their 
heads baskets of radishes, cauliflowers, tomatoes, 
and other vegetables, according to the time of 
year ; or grapes, figs, peaches, apricots, and other 
fruit ; also fowls, corn, eggs, jars of water, skins of 


vinegar, and bundles of grass or green barley. 
Not only do they come thus from the nearer 
villages, but often even from places two, three, 
and four hours' distant. They squat about in the 
narrow street of the town, or in the open market- 
place, to sell their wares, the baskets on the ground 
before them, and their babies in their laps, or hung 
up in their bags, asleep, on the wall behind. It is 
an interesting sight to see these women come into 
one of the towns on a bright spring morning after, 
perhaps, two or three days of rain. Here is a group 
of women, laughing and chattering, each with a 
heavy basket on her head ; several have loads of 
huge pink radishes, larger than our carrots, with 
their fresh green leaves ; another has two or three 
large cauliflowers, which would make a Covent 
Garden salesman open his eyes in wonder — for, in 
spite of the curse which seems to rest on the land, 
it can still produce marvels in the way of fruits 
and vegetables ; yet another has a basketful of 
fowls (tied by their legs), which now and then 
flutter and squall in their vain attempts to escape. 
A little behind is a second group following two 
or three men, their lords and masters, who stalk 
majestically on in front, carrying only guns or 
clubs, while their wives meekly follow with their 
heavy baskets, some containing billets of olive- 
wood for burning, others wheat, with a few eggs 
on the top ; while another, in addition to a load of 
edible snails, has her baby slung at her back in a 
bag. Having disposed of their wares in the town, 
and made various small purchases, they set off 


home again ; and riding back to the city in the 
afternoon one meets the same groups one saw 
in the morning, now returning to their villages, 
their baskets on their heads with the various articles 
they have bought — a few yards of calico, a pair of 
coarse native shoes, a little tin lamp and an old 
wine-bottle containing petroleum, a box or two of 
matches, and a packet of tobacco for the husband ; 
or, it may be, a sheep's head or piece of tripe, or 
some such dainty to eat with the dry bread at the 
evening meal. 

Meanwhile their tongues are busy, money being 
almost the invariable subject of their conversation 
— -the few piastres they got for their produce in the 
morning, the price of the various things they have 
bought, or fines or taxes they have had to pay to 
the Government. And so they disappear in the 
gathering dusk, with hardly a thought beyond to- 
morrow, and how to live from day to day under 
the ever-growing burden of poverty and taxation, 
and with no hope worth the name in the life 
beyond the grave. 

Nor is this all. During the spring, while the 
corn is growing, the women go out almost every day 
to gather the weeds which are found in quantities 
among the corn, for fodder for the cattle and horses ; 
they may be often seen carrying large bundles 
of these weeds on their heads for long distances, 
this, for what reason I know not, being considered 
specially women's work. They often assist also in 
the reaping of the harvest, gathering the olives, 
grapes, and figs. While the ploughing is going on, 


the women and bigger girls assist by hoeing up the 
corners and odd bits of ground where the plough 
cannot reach ; and I have even seen a woman 
ploughing, but this is very rare. 

The clay corn-bins which are a conspicuous 
object in the house of every Fellah, and which 
form one of the most important articles of furni- 
ture, are also made by the women. Clay mixed with 
Tibn (crushed straw) is the material employed in 
their manufacture. After being dug out of the 
hillside, it is broken up, moistened with water, and 
kneaded up into a tenacious mass with the straw, 
and the bin is carefully built up piece by piece, a 
little being done each day, so that a large bin 
(Khabiyeh) takes many days to complete. When 
finished, they are well dried in the sun before being 
brought into the house. When one enters a Fellah's 
house, and the eye has become accustomed to the 
dim twilight which nearly always reigns there, one 
of the first things one notices is the row of these 
bins at the back of the room, or else serving, in 
one of the larger houses, as a partition between 
two rooms. In them the year's supply of wheat, 
lentils, barley, dried figs, etc., is stored. There is 
a small hole, Bozaneh, at the bottom, through 
which the contents are withdrawn as required. 
East of the Jordan a very large kind of bin called 
Ikwdrah is found. A framework of poles and 
reeds is first made in the house between the arches 
which support the roof, this framework being after- 
wards plastered with clay. This latter kind of 
bin probably formed the ' barns ' mentioned in the 


parable of the Foolish Rich Man (St. Luke xii. 18), 
as barns in the sense in which we understand the 
term are unknown in Palestine. At Kerak, Madeba, 
and other places east of the Jordan, corn is also 
stored in sacks in the spaces or recesses between 
the arches of the houses. In Old Testament times 
there used to be a practice of storing corn, etc., in 
the ground, old cisterns being, no doubt, chiefly 
used for the purpose. This would be done more 
especially at disturbed times. I have seen this 
plan resorted to occasionally in some districts, 
more particularly in Moab and other parts of 
Eastern Palestine. 

Of furniture, as we understand the term, an 
ordinary peasant's house will be entirely devoid, 
but there will be a variety of cooking utensils and 
articles of household use. The corn-bins have 
already been described ; next in bulk to them will 
be a huge water-jar : this usually stands near the 
door, in a corner anyone can reach, for the Fellahin 
are a thirsty race and drink large quantities of 
water. In its capacious mouth reposes an earthen- 
ware jug, or tin mug, with which to get the 

Other jars of various sizes and shapes will be 
found, differing somewhat in the several districts of 
Palestine, from the JerraJi, holding a gallon or more, 
in which the women bring the water from the well, 
to the ShcrbeJi, a little jar with a spout, and holding 
one or two pints, from which they drink. In some of 
these jars will be stored olive-oil (which is much used 
in food), pickled olives, honey, and Dibbs (grape 


molasses). A few round trays of brightly-coloured 
straw worked in patterns will be seen hanging on 
the walls, with a sieve and a few rough wicker 
baskets for carrying vegetables to market, or bring- 
ing olives or figs from the fields. Two or three 
large wooden bowls will be in another corner ; in 
them the dough is kneaded and taken to the oven, 
clothes are taken to the spring to wash, and some- 
times also the evening meal is served in one of 
these. They are often made by the wandering 
gipsies, who sell them to the peasants, and I 
remember a Christian peasant (a Greek) once 
bringing a new one he had just bought from these 
wanderers, and asking me to pray over it that it 
might be clean for use for food. 

Smaller bowls of wood or earthenware, used as 
dishes, a mortar of stone or wood for pounding 
coffee, a brass pot for boiling it, a few tiny cups 
without handles in which it is served, an iron ladle 
in which the coffee beans are roasted, and a few 
spoons with a knife or two, will complete the 
inventory of the goods of an average peasant's 

While on the one hand the richer peasants will 
have other things, especially articles of European 
manufacture, on the other the very poor will have 
much less. On the floor will also be one or two 
mats, made of a species of papyrus, or else of a 
stout grass, and on these the people will sit, chairs 
being quite unknown. In a recess in the wall the 
bedding will be piled. This is extremely simple, 

DRESS 139 

consisting of a mattress, three or four inches thick, 
stuffed with wool, cotton, or rags ; a pillow, usually 
filled with straw ; and one or more thick wadded 
quilts (2 Kings viii. 15), which form the only 
covering. Ts T o bedsteads are used, the mattress 
being spread on the floor at night, and rolled up 
and put away during the day. 

The dress of the children is simplicity itself. 
When past the period of swaddling-clothes, a single 
loose garment with short sleeves, and opening a 
couple of inches in front, is all they have. On the 
head is a small cap, often ornamented with beads 
and charms of various kinds, while other charms, 
sewn up in square or triangular pieces of leather, 
will be hung round the child's neck, especially if it 
be a boy. As the children get older their dress 
will be a reproduction on a small scale of that of 
their parents, except that they are usually barefoot, 
and that, in those parts of the country where turbans 
are worn, the boys do not have them till they 
approach manhood. 

The dress of the men differs somewhat in various 
parts of the country, and the same articles of cloth- 
ing will be called by different names in different 
places. The garment worn next the skin is prac- 
tically always a kind of long shirt of white calico ; the 
sleeves of this vary somewhat. East of the Jordan 
they are worn very long and pointed, the dependent 
point being used to carry money, tobacco, and 
various little odds and ends, which are knotted up 
in it, instead of being put in a pocket as with us. 


This is often confined at the waist by a leather 
strap, into which the loose skirt of the garment is 
tucked when the man is at hard work. Over this 
shirt a long garment like a dressing-gown, of some 
coloured material, is worn ; it reaches nearly to the 
heels. For ordinary wear a coloured cotton, lined 
with unbleached calico, is used, but for gala dress 
silk, woven in Damascus or the Lebanon, is the 
material employed ; it is confined round the waist 
by a coloured belt of elastic cotton webbing, with 
a space for keeping money, large sums being often 
carried in these ' purses ' (St. Matt x. 9) on a 

Occasionally very wide, baggy trousers of white 
calico, fastening at the ankles, are worn by the 
peasantry, but only by those who are better off. 
Over this coloured garment a short jacket of 
coloured cloth, with patterns in black braid, is worn 
on Sundays and feast-days. An outer cloak is also 
much used ; this is of various kinds, shapes, and 
colours. About Jerusalem the kind most worn is 
a square cloak of wool and cotton, woven in stripes 
of black and white. It is heavy and warm, and 
will turn any ordinary shower, though it will get 
soaked through with a long exposure to heavy rain. 
About Xablus a shorter and coarser garment, red 
and white, is used, while east of the Jordan, again, 
a very long light black cloak reaching to the heels 
is ordinarily employed. In very cold weather the 
men wear a Furicah — that is, a coat or jacket made 
of lambskins, dressed with the wool on them. They 
are very warm, and are largely used by muleteers, 


camel-drivers, and others whose work obliges them 
to sleep out much at night. 

In many parts the head-dress is a somewhat com- 
plicated one : first of all comes a close-fitting white 
skull-cap of cotton ; then a heavy thick cap over 
that, of felt or some woollen material ; and over 
that, again, a red fez, with a black or dark blue 
tassel, while over all, like the brim of a hat, 
comes the turban. This turban is of various 
colours, which have for the most part a religious or 
other significance. Thus, a white turban almost 
always denotes a Mohammedan, more especially 
one who holds some post under the Ottoman 
Government ; but this is not invariable, as members 
of the Yemen faction, elsewhere described, are dis- 
tinguished by a white turban, and at Bethlehem it 
is the custom for Christians, who have in the 
course of their business had to travel much among 
Moslems, to wear it. A red turban indicates those 
who belong to the faction of Kais ; while a green 
turban shows a Sherif, or noble — that is, a lineal 
descendant of the Prophet Mohammed ; it may be 
seen on the heads of beggars, or men engaged in 
the most menial occupations, as well as of those 
of more prosperous circumstances. I have, how- 
ever, been told by Moslems that it is now some- 
times adopted by people who have no real right to 
the title of Sherif. In other districts, especially 
those where there are many Bedouin, or where the 
people come much in contact with them, the head- 
dress is of quite a different character, consisting of 
a large handkerchief, usually black or of some dark 


colour, but not unfrequently white, with a heavy- 
double coll of cord made of wool or goat's hair to 
keep it in place.* 

On their feet the Fellahin wear thick, clumsy 
shoes or boots of various descriptions. There are 
the long boots coming halfway up the calf of the 
leg, made of bright red leather, with a tassel in 
front and iron-guarded heels. These are chiefly 
worn in Eastern Palestine. Then there are the 
ordinary boots, with thick, heavy soles, of camel or 
buffalo hide, and red uppers, coming to a point 
above the heel and the instep ; shoes of a lighter 
make are also worn. 

On entering a house, church, or mosque, the 
boots or shoes are removed. To enter wearing 
them would be considered most irreverent in the 
case of a sacred edifice, and disrespectful in the 
case of a private house. When a number of people 
are gathered at a house — e.g., to greet a stranger 
of importance — extraordinary collections of boots 
and shoes in all stages of wear may be seen, and 
one wonders sometimes how the respective owners 
ever find their special property again. 

In order to fasten up the sleeves out of the way 
when working, a cord, called Sliemar, is worn over 
the shoulders, passing round the upper part of the 

* This latter head-dress is of comparatively recent date, 
the red cap and turban being universally worn in olden days, 
and probably in use in our Blessed Lord's time. There is a 
traditional saying of Mohammed to the effect that when 
Moslems should give up wearing the turban their honour (or 
nobility) would be gone. 


arms. Into it the ends of the sleeves are tucked, 
thus drawing them back, and leaving the lower arm 
bare and free. 

East of the Jordan a leather belt, with straps 
attached in front and behind, coming over the 
shoulders and crossing on the chest, is worn over 
the inner shirt, and called Jennad. 

The dress of the women is in some things similar 
to that of the men. When about their work they 
usually wear only one long garment, with a girdle 
of some cotton or woollen material round the waist. 
It is made of cotton dyed with indigo, or plain 
white, or broad stripes of red, green and white. In 
some cases, in cold weather, they wear a wadded 
jacket, and occasionally even a lambskin coat like 
the men ; but more often the poor creatures go 
about, even in the coldest weather, with no extra 
clothing. At weddings and on high-days and holi- 
days, instead of the simple garment just described, 
a much more elaborate one is worn of dark blue 
material, with coloured stripes and lines, and some- 
times a few gold threads running through it. Into 
the front of this dress a square of the needlework 
already described is inserted, while, where it is 
worn, a gorgeous coat of coloured cloth, with bright 
braiding round the edges, completes the costume, 
the dress of the Bethlehem women being par- 
ticularly brilliant. 

The women of Nazareth and the districts round 
wear a long white inner garment of cotton, and 
over it another similar one, but of coloured material, 
reaching to the feet, and open in front as far as the 


waist, where a girdle keeps it in place. At Es Salt, 
Madeba, Kerak, etc., the women's dress is most 
unbecoming. It consists of a single garment of 
dark blue calico, about twice as long as the wearer 
is tall, the extra length being pulled up inside the 
girdle, and allowed to fall over it all round, reaching 
nearly to the feet, thus forming a sort of sack. 

The head-dress of the women varies greatly in 
the different parts of the country. The married 
women of Bethlehem have a peculiar one, which is 
worn only by them and the women of the neigh- 
bouring village of Beit Jala. It is made of a fez, 
with some material to stiffen it, and covered with 
red cotton, and has two ears at the bottom on 
either side. To these is fastened a chain of silver, 
or some baser metal, with large silver coins attached 
— ten in number in the case of the richer women, 
and seven in that of the poorer (a bride has twenty). 
The lowest central coin is, whenever possible, of 
gold, being really a kind of medal made expressly 
for the purpose, and worth some £3 or £4. Along 
the front of the head-dress, over the forehead, is 
one row of coins (or more if the woman be rich), 
or, if she be too poor to have real money, some 
imitation coins are used instead. Over the whole 
a veil, consisting of some 3 yards of fine white 
cotton material, is thrown. It was a veil, no doubt, 
of this kind which Ruth wore when she gleaned 
in the fields of Boaz outside Bethlehem, and 
into which he poured the six measures of corn 
(Ruth iii. 15). The head-dress entirely conceals 
the hair, it being considered improper for the 


peasant women to show any of it, and is often 
worn night and day. 

The women of the villages about Jerusalem wear 
a rather different head-dress, the high hat being 
replaced by a close-fitting cap, to the front of 
which one or two rows of coins are securely 
fastened. A metal chain hangs from it, passing 
loosely under the chin ; and from its lowest part 
a large silver coin is suspended. Many of the coins 
on this singular head-dress are large, and the total 
weight amounts, where there is a double row of 
them, to several pounds ; yet so accustomed to it 
do the women become, that, should they have to 
lay it aside for any reason, they suffer from severe 
headache. So well known is this, that a short time 
ago a Moslem woman in a village near Jerusalem, 
who had to give her head-dress as a pledge for the 
repayment of a sum of money her husband had 
borrowed, bound a heavy piece of metal on her 
head instead, and so prevented the headache. In 
public the women always wear a veil, not over their 
faces, however, but over their heads, the face being 
uncovered. It is considered improper for them to 
be seen by a man without their veil. It is, never- 
theless, often laid aside when they are engaged in 
hard work, or, indeed, in other occupations ; and 
many a time in the villages, turning suddenly a 
corner of one of the narrow winding lanes, I have 
come on a little group of Fellahat busy at work 
without their veils, but the moment I was perceived 
the veils would be replaced on their heads, or, if 

they were not sufficiently close at hand, one of the 



long, voluminous sleeves of their dress would be 
thrown over till I had passed. The women of 
Moab and Gilead and those in Galilee do not wear 
either of the head-dresses I have just described, but 
instead of them have a dark-coloured piece of cotton 
material, folded several times, bound round the 
head, covering the forehead, but leaving the crown 
of the head bare. 


DOMESTIC LIFE (C0?lti?lUed) 

The Fellahin are as a rule a healthy race. The 
open-air life they lead, the fact that they rarely use 
stimulants, and their simple habits, all tend to keep 
them free from many complaints common to other 
climates and conditions of life. They are, never- 
theless, no more immune from sickness than any 
others of the human race, and in times of illness they 
are as a rule very helpless. All, both Moslems and 
Christians, have unbounded faith in charms, and 
use them extensively both to ward off sickness 
and to cure it when it comes. There are, however, 
certain remedies known to them which are not 
without their value. Cauterizing with a hot iron 
is resorted to for lumbago, rheumatism, diphtheria, 
and other ailments, and some persons have a high 
reputation for their skill in administering this drastic 
remedy, which they employ with a boldness pro- 
duced by their absolute ignorance of human 
anatomy. The results, however, are sometimes very 
good, especially in cases of acute inflammation. 
Some of them are very clever in setting broken 
bones. They value highly European medical and 

147 10—2 


surgical skill and European drugs, and medical 
missions have done wonders in winning the hearts 
of the people and in disposing them to listen to 
the message of the Gospel. 

Malarial fever of different types is the commonest 
of all maladies ; and there are certain localities 
which have an unenviable notoriety in this respect, 
such as some parts of the plains of Sharon and 
Jezreel, and certain villages in other places. One 
such village on the western slopes of the Jebel 
el Kuds became particularly malarious during the 
present generation. This is said to be due to the 
cutting down of some pine-woods which formerly 
surrounded it — such, at least, is the opinion of its 
present inhabitants, and there seems to be no reason 
to question its correctness. Quinine is well known 
to them as an antidote for this disease, and they 
value it highly. A very virulent type of this fever, 
with symptoms resembling those of yellow fever, 
occurs occasionally in the plains, and is probably 
due to contaminated water. 

Dengue fever, or a fever closely resembling 
what is now known in England as influenza, is 
by no means uncommon, and sometimes occurs in 
epidemics. It is characteristically called in Arabic 
Abu rikab, or ' the father of the joints,' from the 
severe pains in the joints and bones which usually 
accompanies it. Small-pox is also very general. 
Inoculation for this disease is still largely practised, 
especially by the more ignorant Moslems, and 
helps to spread the contagion and to raise the 
death-rate. During a severe outbreak of it in 


1901, a Khatib in a village in the Jebel el Kuds 
inoculated twenty-six boys from the body of one 
man who had died of small-pox, with the result 
that every one of them succumbed. 

The people have, however, a high esteem for 
vaccination as a preventative of small-pox, and 
there are now native vaccinators who go about the 
country practising their art. They charge a hishlik 
(about sixpence) for each person operated on — a 
relatively high fee for the country — and make a 
very good living by it. During the outbreak just 
referred to, a lady missionary vaccinated hundreds 
of children and adults in some of the villages near 
Jerusalem, and thus probably saved the lives of 
scores of people. 

Measles is another disease which is at times very 
fatal among the children, and this almost entirely 
from the utter carelessness of the parents, the 
deaths being chiefly, not from the disease itself, but 
its sequelae. They have as a rule little or no idea 
of nursing the sick ; they mean well often enough, 
but do not know what is wanted. Then, too, their 
fatalistic ideas come in, especially in the case of the 
Moslems : if it be God's will that the sick recover, 
he will recover, but if not he will die, so why 
should they trouble ? A European doctor, who 
had had wide experience in the country, once told 
me that he had on several occasions discovered 
that, when he had given up hope of a patient's 
recovery, and had told the relations this, they took 
no further trouble about the sick person, giving 
neither food nor medicine ; consequently, after 


finding this out, he never told the friends what his 
view of the case was, and his hopes (or the reverse) 
of recovery. 

Perhaps in no country in the world is blindness 
and defective sight so common as in Palestine. 
Scarcity of water has, no doubt, much to do with 
this and many other complaints. When it is 
difficult for the people to get water enough for 
drinking and cooking, one cannot wonder that they 
do not wash often. Eye diseases are very common, 
but are undoubtedly aggravated by want of cleanli- 
ness and by flies. It is a common thing to see 
children suffering from these complaints with a 
number of flies settled on the discharging eyelids, 
the little things not seeming to mind their presence ; 
and by them, of course, the disease is communicated 
to others. Much blindness is caused by the apathy 
of the people, who will put off going to a medical 
man till too late. In many and many a case a 
perfect cure could have been effected, but the 
patient has delayed until the sight is hopelessly 

The mortality among children, infants espe- 
cially, is very great. Much of this is caused by the 
absolute ignorance of the young mothers as to how 
to treat their children. Improper food produces 
much disease among them. As soon as they are 
able to eat anything at all solid, they are given the 
same food as the rest of the family ; and it is no 
uncommon thing to see a little child, unable to 
stand, eating raw cucumber or sour, unripe grapes. 
The cauterization also, already mentioned, and 


which is used as freely on children as on adults, is 
no doubt responsible for a good many deaths among 
them, the poor little things, especially if weakly, 
being unable to stand the shock and pain. 

The Fellahm, although a strong race in many 
respects, yet feel the cold of winter intensely, more 
particularly in the mountains, and every year there 
are cases of people dying of cold and exposure, 
especially in times of snow. In one case, which 
occurred recently, a man was going home one 
winter's afternoon from Jerusalem on a donkey 
which he had hired from his own village. Some 
time after dark the donkey arrived alone at his 
owner's house, with things belonging to the man 
who had hired it in the saddle-bags. This led to a 
search being made, and the man's body, partially 
eaten by hyenas, was found by the roadside. Nothing 
was missing, so it was, clearly, not a case of robbery 
and murder ; but no doubt he had fallen from the 
donkey and died of exposure. 

Like all hot countries, Palestine is liable to 
epidemics of cholera from time to time. During 
the last epidemic but one, the village of Bir Zeit in 
the Jebel el Kuds was one of those attacked by it. 
A young man from the village died of the disease 
in the town of Nablus. His mother fetched his 
clothes home and washed them in the spring from 
which most of the villagers got their drinking- 
water ! As a natural consequence, the cholera very 
soon broke out with great violence. It was the 
grape season, and some of the people were living 
out in their vineyards. One of the leading men 


of the village, a man of great force of character, 
persuaded the rest of the people to go out, only 
three men, who had volunteered to do so, remain- 
ing to bury the dead. Arrangements were made 
for supplying the different families with food, 
water, etc., without running any risk of carrying 
infection. It was on a Tuesday that the disease 
first showed itself, and by the following Tuesday 
thirty deaths had occurred out of a population 01 
from two to three hundred. Not a single other 
case occurred after that day, and it never reappeared 
in that village during that outbreak. Of the three 
men who so nobly volunteered to bury the dead, 
all escaped, the first of them dying thirty years 
afterwards, the other two being still alive. The 
incident is a notable one, as there was no European 
hand in it from first to last, and it shows what the 
Fellahin are capable of under wise and energetic 
native guidance. 

Leprosy* is still found in Palestine, and lepers 

* The following notes on leprosy in Palestine at the 
present day have been kindly furnished me by Dr. AVheeler, 
the senior medical missionary of the London Jews 1 Society in 
Jerusalem : 

1. Fish in this country plays no part in causing leprosy. 
The Jews who consume the greatest part of the salted as 
well as fresh fish, and in some cases even of decaying fish, 
hardly ever suffer from leprosy. A few years ago there was 
a case of a woman, but she came from Salonica. In the 
villages of Ramallah, Beit Haninah, Ain Arik, etc., and among 
the Bedouin, practically no fish is eaten, and yet it is just 
from them that the greater number of lepers come. 

2. Leprosy is undoubtedly contagious ; a special bacillus 


may be seen outside Jerusalem, Xablus, and 
Ramleh, sitting by the wayside begging. They 
are provided for to a certain extent by the local 
authorities, who in these three places have set 
apart houses for them, and give them a certain 
amount of bread every day. They also receive a 
great deal of food and money from the people 
generally, as alms. 

The Fellahm seem to be specially subject to 
leprosy — that is, more so than the towns-people. A 
leper is regarded as a dead person, and, as already 
mentioned, the Christians consider that, if a married 

has been found. However, cases of contagion are very 

3. It has not yet been quite decided whether leprosy is 
strictly hereditary ; but heredity plays the most important 
part in the transmission of this disease. 

4. It is possible for leprous persons to have healthy 
children. There are now in the asylum here live children 
between the ages of five and twelve who have been born of 
leprous parents. Up to this time they have shown no sign 
of leprosy ; they are still under observation. There is a man 
now living whose mother was a leper; he married about 
twelve years ago. He and his wife and children are all at 
present quite healthy. 

5. It has not been established by experience here that a 
child born of parents who become lepers afterwards need 
necessarily develop leprosy itself. 

6. The tubercular form is the commonest in this country. 
It is impossible to state at the present moment what is the 
chief factor in the causation of leprosy. The inhabitants of 
this country live upon almost the same kind of food everywhere, 
and although most of the lepers come from the villages, there 
are some villages in which no case of leprosy has been reported. 


person becomes a leper, the husband or wife, as the 
case may be, is free to marry again. 

There is at Jerusalem a fine hospital, under the 
care of the Moravian Brethren, specially for lepers, 
where they are most carefully tended. 

There are various hot springs both east and west 
of the Jordan, such as those at Tiberias, to which 
people resort for various diseases. In the Zerka 
Main (Callirhoe) are some which are very famous 
among the people of Moab and the Belka for their 
healing properties. Persons who have no children 
will bathe in them in hopes that they may obtain 
them, as the people believe strongly that the waters 
have this effect. 

Among remedies known to the native doctors 
may be mentioned one for rabies ; it is an infusion 
of the leaves and flowers of a low, strong-smelling 
shrub with bright yellow flowers, which are 
succeeded by long pods ; it has two different native 

Amongst the Bedouin, who are supposed to lead a healthy 
life, there have been several cases of leprosy. Although 
leprosy is contagious, it would seem that before it is trans- 
mitted the person receiving it must have a ' hereditary dis- 
position. 1 It is a curious fact that in this country for 
centuries, in spite of no sanitary precautions being taken, 
leprosy has neither decreased nor increased. It is found in 
certain families which seem to have a ' hereditary predis- 
position. 1 In the leper hospital here there is a special 
department for the bringing up, by hand, of children of 
leprous parents. They are removed from their parents im- 
mediately after birth, and kept exclusively in a separate 
apartment ; they are thus kept from all leprous contamina- 
tion. These experiments will be watched with deep interest. 


names — Litin and Salmoneh. It is evidently a 
powerful drug, and a medical man told me that 
he knew of a case in which a man who had been 
bitten by a mad dog, and was treated with it, 
died of Bright's disease brought on by the use 
of it. 

In most of the large villages there are one or 
two idiots, who seem to be harmless as a rule. A 
proverb evidently derived from the Bedouin says : 
* No tribe but has its idiot. ' There are a few 
lunatics also, perhaps more than might be expected 
a priori in a country like Palestine, where the rush 
and hurry of Western life is practically unknown. 
Near Bethlehem there is a Greek monastery where 
insane cases are taken, the violent ones being 
chained to the wall. They profess that some cases 
are cured here, but, as with many other things in 
the East, statistics are entirely wanting. The 
lunatics, like the idiots, are nearly always harmless. 
1 have never myself come across one who was 
dangerous. They simply wander about, one of 
their characteristics being their dislike to wearing 
any sort of clothing. They, in common with 
persons afflicted with the shaking palsy, are held to 
be under God's special protection, and are therefore 
rarely unkindly treated. 

When a person has died, they have a great objec- 
tion to announcing the fact directly to anyone. 
Thus, for instance, if a man goes to break to 
another the news of his father's death, he begins in 
a roundabout way ; says he is ill, and gradually 
tells him more and more, till at last the other 


guesses what has happened, and breaks out into 
bitter lamentations. 

Many have an idea that the death of a domestic 
animal, more especially if it be at all a valuable 
one, such as a horse of good breed, is instead of the 
death of the owner or of a member of his family. 

On the day of a death, the relations, friends, and 
neighbours bring food, bread, etc., to the house of 
the family to eat. It is supposed that those in 
the house of death cannot cook or attend to such 
things, and at first they are not supposed to eat at 
all, from grief, and many do not eat for some time. 
In some places it is the custom to thus supply food 
for fifteen days. On the last day the relatives of 
the dead kill one or more sheep, make a feast, and 
invite a number of people. This is considered a 
satisfaction for the sins of the dead person. 

Palestine being essentially a hot country, burial 
has to take place very soon after death. No coffin 
is used, the body being carried on a bier to the 
grave merely wrapped in a shroud or in the 
ordinary clothes. At a Greek funeral the relations 
of the dead buy candles from the priests, and, light- 
ing them, give one to each person present to show 
that the life of the deceased was good and pure as 
the light. With the same idea at the grave, while 
the service is being read, cotton dipped in olive-oil 
is placed on the corpse. 

Among the Moslems the body is ceremonially 
washed before burial, this being part of the duty of 
the Khatib in case of men, while the village mid- 
wife usually performs this office for women. 


In the case of influential people a large crowd 
usually accompanies the bier, and, as it is con- 
sidered a meritorious act to assist in carrying this, 
there are always plenty of persons to take the dead 
to the burying-ground. If the deceased be a 
Moslem of position, the bier is preceded by persons 
carrying palm branches (in token that the deceased 
has been victorious, or, in other words, has attained 
Paradise), and men reciting passages from the 
Koran ; and where he has been famous as a dervish 
or sheikh, red and green banners with passages from 
the Koran embroidered on them will be borne in 
the procession, accompanied by the beating of 

When a grave has been dug deep enough, stones 
are placed along both sides at the bottom, leaving 
between a space wide enough for the corpse ; and 
when this has been laid in its last resting-place, 
slabs of stone are put over it, resting on the two 
rows of stones. The interstices are then carefully 
plastered over so that no earth can touch the body. 
In rocky ground, however, the grave is sometimes 
so shallow that the wild animals can get to the 
corpse. Strolling one day outside the walls of 
Kerak, in the land of Moab, I met a poor woman 
in terrible distress ; she had come to look at the 
grave of her child, which had been buried the pre- 
vious day, only to find that the hyenas had dug up 
and carried off the body. 

The graveyards are little cared for, being in 
marked contrast to the Welys, or tombs of saints. 
They are rarely, if ever, enclosed in any way ; and, 


as among the Fellahin tombstones are rare, it is 
sometimes most difficult to detect a burying-ground, 
and one may easily walk over an old grave without 
being the least conscious of the fact (St. Luke xi. 44). 
In a few Moslem villages I have noticed a large 
blue sweet-scented iris planted on the graves ; this 
plant is called Subeyhah, the diminutive of the word 
1 Praise,' its sweet scent being thought to be accept- 
able to God, as the praises of the dead. 

In some cases the burial-grounds belong, not to 
the village or church, but to the particular family 
or clan, only members of that family being allowed 
to be buried there. 

The dead are sometimes buried in a sort of vault 
called Fustakiyeh or Khashkhdsheh. This is some- 
times a natural cave, but more often a hole in the 
ground with four rough walls and a barrel-shaped 
roof, a doorway being left at one end. In the case 
of burial in these vaults, the body is merely laid on 
the floor wrapped in a shroud or in the ordinary 
clothes, the doorway being then built up with large 
stones laid in mortar. A considerable number of 
bodies can be placed in one of these vaults, but 
they are usually employed only for the very poorest 
or strangers. Occasionally others will be tem- 
porarily buried there — for example, in winter, when 
the weather is too stormy to allow of an ordinary 
grave being dug, the body being afterwards trans- 
ferred to a proper grave, as the people dislike being 
buried there. It was probably in order to build 
such a vault that the priests (St. Matt, xxvii. 7) 
purchased the potter's field, as the removal of the 


clay would make a large hole suitable for the pur- 
pose, and thus lessen the expense. In the same 
way now a hole caused by the removal of stone for 
building is sometimes utilized by the Fellahin for 
making one of these burial-vaults. 

After the funeral, in the case of Moslems, food 
is often cooked and placed on the grave for the 
poor to eat, this being, it is supposed, reckoned in 
the other world as though done by the dead person, 
and so as adding to his merit, and consequently 
increasing his hopes of eternal life. 

This is also done in many cases on Thursdays for 
some time after the death, and for the same reason. 
Again, after Ramadhan (the Moslem month of fast- 
ing) is over, the people go to the burial-ground, 
when (if there has been a death in any family during 
the past year, and if the relations can afford it) food 
is placed there for the poor. 

If a sheikh or influential person dies, word is sent 
to the people of his own and neighbouring villages, 
and they come bringing money or clothes, which 
they put on the grave in honour of the dead. These 
are taken by the relations, who in return make 
a feast for those who attend the funeral. But in 
some places, instead of clothes and money, rice only 
is put on the grave. 

Sometimes after the death of a sheikh, or other 
important person, a favourite camel will be bound 
on the grave, and left there to die ; such a victim 
is called JJahiyeh. The idea is probably that of its 
spirit accompanying its former owner in the spirit- 


The Fellahtn greatly dread any disturbance of 
their bones after death, and to do this is looked 
upon as a great sin. One of the worst curses that 
can be pronounced on a man is, ' May your bones 
be disturbed !' 

Thursday is the day on which, according to 
Moslem belief, the spirits of the dead are supposed 
to visit the graves. For this reason the people go 
out to the burial-ground on that day, and sit among 
the graves. Blind men also are sometimes hired to 
come at these times and recite passages of the 
Koran there. They believe that the spirits know 
that the graves are thus honoured, and that, though 
we cannot see them, they can see us ' as we see oil 
in a bottle.' 

After a death, especially that of a person of con- 
sideration, friends from the villages round go to 
' comfort ' the relations. They take a goat or sheep 
with them, kill it, and make a feast to console them. 
This may be done at any time from five days to a 
year. They stay a day or two with the dead man's 
relatives, and then gradually disperse to their own 
homes. A similar return visit has to be paid by 
the relatives subsequently. These occasions are 
often very burdensome to the poorer people, as 
they borrow money to meet the expenses, the debts 
thus incurred hampering them for years afterwards ; 
but as they would be considered stingy, an epithet 
an Arab dreads almost more than any other, if they 
omitted to observe the custom, they are afraid to 
drop it. 



The occupation of a shepherd is contemporaneous 
in its origin with the birth of the human race, and 
shepherds have throughout the Bible narrative 
played an important part in the history of the 
world. Abel was a keeper of sheep ; Abraham, 
Jacob, Moses, David, and other of Israel's heroes 
and teachers, have been shepherds, and have fed 
their flocks on the hills and plains of the Holy 
Land or the neighbouring countries ; while the 
Scriptures teem with incidents connected with, and 
illustrations drawn from, the life of the shepherd 
and the sheep. 

The dependence of the sheep on the shepherd, 
and the intimacy between the two, is infinitely 
closer than anyone acquainted with our Western 
flocks would at all suppose, as we shall see. The 
shepherd it is who goes out with the flock morning 
by morning, who chooses each day their pasture, 
leads them when thirsty to sjH'ing or brook, and 
finds a cool and shady place where they may rest 
during the heat of the day. He it is who guides 
them safely home at eventide to village or sheep- 

161 11 


fold, guards them from robbers, and protects them 
from wild beasts. In the bosom of his inner robe 
he carries the young lambs when weary ; as the 
flock grazes, scattered over the plain or along the 
hillside, he watches over it with ceaseless vigilance, 
warns the stragglers, goes after the lost ones, and 
at night, when in the wilderness, lies down to rest 
in the midst of them. He knows each of his sheep 
individually, often gives them names, to which, 
when called, they respond, and his voice is familiar 
to them, and they will recognise and follow it out 
of many others. 

Goats and sheep, flocks and herds, have ever con- 
stituted one of the principal sources of wealth in 
the East, and have been always one of the chief 
objects of the raids of the Bedouin and other 
marauders. This latter is well shown by the fact 
that the ordinary word in Arabic for spoil, or booty 
taken in war, is Gliandmeh, from Ghanam (sheep). 
To-day both goats and sheep are of the utmost 
value to the Fellahin. The milk drunk in the 
country is almost exclusively that of goats and 
ewes (cows are scarcely ever milked, except in the 
towns), and it is from this that the butter, cheese, 
and Leben are made. Their wool and hair are spun 
into coarse thread ; of the former, strong rough 
cloth for garments, carpets, and bags, is woven, and 
of the latter is manufactured twine and rope of 
various thicknesses, a stout material for saddle-bags, 
nosebags for horses and mules, corn-sacks, and the 
black haircloth for the shepherds' tents. Their flesh 
is eaten, the horns are made into knife-handles, the 

■f- ■-. 


v - - "V 


skins are tanned, while the hides of the larger goats 
are stripped off entire, and when dressed become 
the water-skins so familiar to all dwellers in the 
towns and cities of the Orient. 

The life of the shepherd in the East is a much 
more arduous one than that of their English 
brethren. With the exception of the vineyards 
and little plots of garden ground where cucumbers, 
melons, tomatoes, etc., are grown, the country is 
unenclosed, and therefore the shepherd cannot leave 
his flock in a field # during the day, and return at 
night knowing that he will find his sheep there ; he 
must accompany them throughout the day in all 
their wanderings over the plains or along the 
mountain-side, and never lose sight of them for 
a moment. Morning by morning he takes them 
out, stays with them all day long, and at evening 

* The Hebrew term for ' field, 1 in by far the greater 
number of passages where that word occurs in our Bible, has 
no such connotation as that of the English word — viz., * an 
enclosed portion of pasture or arable land ' — but means 
merely the land outside the city or village — in other words, 
the open country. The modern Arabic term for such land 
denotes uninhabited or, more exactly, uncultivated land, 
and is often the exact equivalent of our word ' wilderness ' 
(not 'desert 1 ). Such terms as 'down, 1 'common, 1 ' moor, 1 would 
more nearly connote the idea conveyed by the Hebrew and 
Arabic words than does ' field 1 ; though even this at one 
time probably meant the open country, and under the form 
4 fell 1 (compare the Dutch ' veld ') does so still. Such lands 
in Old Testament times were inherited, bought, and sold, 
■equally with vineyards and other enclosed portions (see 
Jer. xxxii. 43, 44, where the Hebrew is in the singular). 



brings them buck to village or fold. When thus 
putting forth his sheep in the morning, bringing 
them home at night, or leading them through the 
day to fresh pasture, he always goes before his flock 
(St. John x. 4) ; but when the sheep or goats are 
grazing he lets them scatter about, following them 
wherever they go, keeping a watchful eye over 
them, and warning them whenever they are going 
into any danger, or attempt to stray into forbidden 
places. Often on the hillside the shepherd may be 
seen thus watching his charge, leaning on his staff 
or club, his form as he stands on a projecting rock, 
or little knoll, silhouetted against the deep blue 
sky. Should a sheep stray too far from the flock, he 
warns it by a shout, and should this be unheeded he 
will throw a stone near it, so as to turn it in the 
direction he desires. I have never seen any of 
them purposely throw a stone at a sheep or goat, 
though I have known a careless aim result in 
a broken leg. Each shepherd has his own peculiar 
cry, with which all his sheep are familiar, and which 
lie always uses when he wishes to call them to him 
or to get them to follow him. 

Some years ago I was staying the night in some 
shepherds' tents in the Jebel Ajlun (Gilead). The 
tents, to the number of ten or twelve, were pitched 
in a wide circle enclosing a considerable area. In 
the evening some six or seven flocks were brought 
within the camp for protection. In the morning, 
when the time came for the shepherds to take their 
charges out to pasture, instead of attempting to 
separate their respective flocks from the crowd of 


goats and sheep scattered promiscuously over the 
enclosed space, each man went a little way beyond 
the ring of tents, and standing there uttered his 
special call. Instantly the whole mass of sheep 
and goats was in motion, and as the shepherds 
continued to call the several flocks separated them- 
selves, each streaming out of the camp in the 
direction of their respective guides, and in five 
minutes not a goat or sheep remained inside. 
Looking again shortly afterwards, the various 
flocks could be seen diverging to all points of the 
compass, each following its own shepherd (St. 
John x. 4, 5). 

The shepherds often give names to their sheep. 
These names are descriptive of some trait or 
characteristic of the animal, as Long-ears, White* 
nose, Speckled, and so forth. Not unfrequently 
the sheep get to know their names, and will answer 
to them when called (St. John x. 3). 

Every shepherd worthy of the name knows and 
recognises his charges by their appearance, and 
it is said that even in a lame flock will thus dis- 
tinguish each one. When he goes over them to 
ascertain if all are there, either at coming home at 
night or on going out in the morning, he can tell, 
without counting, whether one be missing or not. 
Should one or two be wanting, he knows exactly 
which they are, and can describe them accurately. 
If at any time a shepherd thus finds that one of his 
sheep is missing, he will, as a rule, go at once in 
search of it. Not very long ago a shepherd, belong- 
ing to a village no great distance from Jerusalem, 


discovered, as his sheep passed before him into 
their fold at night, that one of them was not there. 
Accordingly, he set out to search for it. For three 
days he wandered about seeking it, till at length 
he came upon it in the wilderness, held fast by one 
of its fore-feet, which had become wedged in a crack 
of a rock where it had climbed to find herbage. 

But it is not only to keep them from straying 
that the shepherd must accompany his sheep. Wild 
beasts are by no means unknown in Palestine 
to-day, in spite of the increase of modern firearms. 
Especially is this the case in the remoter and more 
rugged districts where the population is very sparse, 
and the villages few and far between ; while, when 
impelled by scarcity of food they will haunt the 
villages and suburbs of the towns. A Bethlehem 
woman, who was our cook for some time, has told 
me that once, when she was a girl, going out of her 
father's house very early one morning, she came on 
a bear just outside. 

Hyenas are common, and wolves by no means 
rare, and the latter will sometimes attack the sheep 
in broad daylight. In the summer of 1901 I was 
itinerating among the villages around Jerusalem. 
One day I sent my tent on in advance to a certain 
village, bidding my servant to have it pitched by 
the time I arrived. On reaching the place, I found 
the tent erected on the edge of the village, in a fig- 
garden, and a number of the villagers awaiting me. 
We exchanged greetings, and I had hardly entered 
my tent when, a sudden commotion arising, I ran 
out to see what had happened. Two flocks of 


sheep, led by their respective shepherds, were 
descending the opposite side of the valley and 
converging towards the village. Just at this 
moment the men around my tent caught sight of 
a huge gray wolf (' as large as a donkey,' remarked 
one of them, with characteristic Oriental exaggera- 
tion) stealthily making its way towards the sheep, 
no doubt with the hope of picking up a straggler. 
The shouts and cries of the villagers warned those 
in charge, and alarmed the wolf, who, finding he 
was discovered, slunk off in another direction. A 
few days before this occurred, at another hamlet in 
the same district, a wolf got by night into a court- 
yard where a number of sheep were folded, and killed 
two of them before it was detected. This was an 
unusually audacious thing for a wolf to do, as they 
generally shun the precincts of human habitations. 
Probably he was impelled by hunger, as that year, 
from some unknown cause, there was a remarkable 
scarcity of the smaller animals on which they prey. 
The year previous to this was one of abnormally 
scanty rainfall in Western Palestine, with conse- 
quent scarcity of pasture for the flocks. On this 
account one of the peasants belonging to a village 
I know well took his flock of forty sheep to the 
Belka, the great tableland east of the Jordan, which 
once formed the territory of Sihon, King of the 
Amorites. After an absence of many weeks, 
having heard that rain had fallen, and that there 
was grass in the field (Zech. x. 1), he decided to 
return to his village, and accordingly started on his 
way home. Sheep are proverbially slow travellers 


(Gen. xxxiii. 13, 14), and after several days' journey 
the shepherd found himself one evening in the 
wilderness of Judea, to the west of Jericho. He 
had watched alone for several nights, travelling 
during the day, and was utterly tired out. Gather- 
ing his flock around him, he lay down to rest, and 
was soon fast asleep. While he slept six wolves 
came down on the sheep, and when he awoke next 
morning forty mangled carcasses lay about him. 
When the poor man, heart-broken at his loss, got 
back to his own village and told his tragic tale, the 
villagers, with that kindliness which is one of the 
fine features of their character, joined together to 
help. One gave a single sheep, another two, 
another three, and so on, thus making up his entire 

Another man told me how once he was out with 
his sheep in a deep, partially wooded valley. As he 
stood watching the flock, the movement of some 
animal making its way through the scrub down the 
further side of the valley caught his eye. At first 
the creature was too far off for him to make out 
what it was. Presently it reached a stream which 
flowed along the bottom, and as it stopped to drink 
he saw that it was a large wolf. Crossing the 
brook, it made swiftly for the sheep. The man 
hurried down to meet it, but the beast was quicker 
than he, and before he could intercept it, had 
caught a sheep which had strayed too far from the 
rest of the flock. The wolf had seized the unfor- 
tunate creature by the throat, and was attempting 
to drag it away when the man came up with it. 


Leaving its victim, it turned boldly on the man, 
and, seizing his knee in its powerful jaws, buried its 
fangs in the flesh. A fierce struggle for life ensued, 
as the peasant was unarmed. At last, however, he 
managed to get hold of a large stone, and gave the 
wolf a blow between the eyes, which partially 
stunned it and made it let go its hold. Following 
up his advantage, he completely disabled it with 
further blows, and finally crushed its skull. 

But wild beasts are not the only enemies shep- 
herds have to guard against. Thieves and robbers 
are not uncommon, especially where the villagers 
are camping out with their sheep in the open 
country. Some years ago I was riding home to 
Jerusalem with a friend, rather late at night. The 
sun had set two or three hours previously, and there 
was no moon. About an hour from Jerusalem we 
passed a large flock of sheep, with their shepherd 
in the midst of them, sleeping out a little off the 
road. As we drew near we noticed a man stealthily 
creeping up towards the sheep, under cover of a 
pile of stones, with the evident intention of stealing 
some of them. We forthwith alarmed the shepherd, 
and the would-be robber, finding that he was 
detected, decamped. 

Such attempts are usually made under cover ot 
darkness. Sometimes several men together w T ill 
organize a raid. They creep quietly up from different 
sides till they are in close proximity to the Hock on 
which they have designs. They then fire several 
guns simultaneously, and the startled sheep spring 
up and scatter in all directions. The robbers seize 


as many as they can conveniently take, and are 
gone before the owners can do anything. In the 
case of such an attempted raid which occurred 
within my own knowledge not long ago, a man 
succeeded in saving several flocks. Three or four 
shepherds were spending the night together in the 
open country ; robbers came down on them in the 
way I have described, and the sheep began to run 
in all directions. Some of the shepherds, in a panic, 
ran off to a village near by for help, but one of 
them, with great presence of mind, stood up in the 
midst of the sheep and loudly uttered his special call, 
at the same time whirling his Abba, or cloak, round 
his head. At the sound of his voice the sheep 
stopped in their flight. The waving of the cloak 
caught their eye, and, following its motion, they 
came circling round and round, getting gradually 
nearer and nearer to the shepherd, till at length, 
with the exception of one unfortunate animal, all 
had been brought back. But for the prompt action 
of this man nearly all the sheep would have been 

In most flocks there is a leader, either a goat or 
sheep. It carries a bell, and is frequently orna- 
mented by the shepherd. If it is straying too far, 
and the shepherd warns it by throwing a stone so 
as to fall near it, it will usually come back at once 
to him ; but should it not do so, the man threatens 
it with his stick, when it will instantly run close up 
to him. 

Sheep or goats stolen near a town are usually 
disposed of at once by the thieves to the butchers. 


This is so generally recognised by the Fellahin that, 
should a shepherd miss any of his charges, and have 
any reason to suspect that they have been stolen, 
he commonly sets off immediately for the city. 
Arrived there, he goes to the slaughter-house to 
see if he can find his missing charges ; should he 
succeed in doing so, the animals will be returned to 
him. If, however, he be unsuccessful, he inquires 
what butchers have killed that day, and, going 
round to their shops, asks to see the heads and 
hides of the animals. In the event of his identify- 
ing any of his property, he takes the head of the 
slaughtered animal to the authorities, and claims, 
and frequently obtains, compensation for it. 

In cases where a sheep or a goat has strayed 
from its own flock, and, as sometimes occurs, has 
joined another, should its former owner discover it, 
he can claim it. If he can prove the time and 
place of its disappearance, and these tally with the 
circumstances under which it joined its present com- 
panions, his claim will be allowed, and the animal 
be restored to him. Not only so, but if the straying 
animal be a ewe or she-goat, and have in the 
meanwhile borne lambs or kids, both it and its 
offspring will be restored to the original owner 
when once the claim is fairly established. I knew 
of a certain case in the Jebel el Kuds where some 
years elapsed before a straying ewe was traced, but 
when this was at last done, not only the sheep 
itself, but also all its progeny, amounting to twenty- 
one head in all, were returned to the former pro- 
prietor. There is among the Fellahin a kind of 


code of honour in this matter, and once let such 
a claim be fairly established, but few of them 
would venture to repudiate it. Some sheep are 
peculiarly prone to straying, and the peasants have 
a special term for such — Xadireh, or isolated. 

The rule mentioned by Jacob (Gen. xxxi. 39) 
still holds good in Palestine. Whatever be stolen 
from a shepherd, by day or by night, he has to 
make good, the supposition being that the loss was 
due to negligence or lack of watchfulness on his 
part. This, however, does not apply in the case 
of a raid, nor if the sheep have been carried off by 

As the summer comes on and the weather gets 
hotter, the herbage becomes dry. The sheep and 
goats begin to need water, which is not the case 
while the pasture is green and succulent. The 
flocks are then usually watered once a day, about 
noon, from a stream or spring, or, if these highly- 
prized blessings do not exist, from wells or 
cisterns. Many of these cisterns are out in the 
open country, on the site of some ancient village 
which has disappeared ages ago, or found dug in 
a long-forgotten garden or vineyard. In such 
cases a large stone or pile of stones is placed over 
the well's mouth, partly to prevent the water being 
stolen, and partly to keep animals from falling in. 
This practice dates from remotest antiquity, as we 
learn from Gen. xxix. 1-10 and other passages. 
Sometimes a huge circular block of stone, in shape 
resembling a giant millstone, is placed over the 
well. This stone has an opening in the centre 


large enough to admit the easy passage of a bucket 
filled with water. In this opening a closely-fitting 
pear-shaped stone, like a stopper, is inserted, so 
smooth and heavy that it is almost impossible to re- 
move it with the hands alone. It is a beautiful sight 
to watch, as mid-day draws on, the various flocks, 
led by their respective shepherds, converging to- 
wards some large spring, and then patiently awaiting 
their turn to come at their master's bidding and 
quench their thirst in the cool rivulet. 

Throughout the hotter months the sheep are 
taken to some shady spot to rest during the middle 
of the day. A grove of trees, the shadow of an 
overhanging rock, a cave, a ruin — all are utilized 
for this purpose. From time immemorial the shep- 
herds in Palestine have done this, and the practice 
is referred to in the words of the Bride (Cant. i. 7) : 
' Tell me where thou makest thy flock to rest at 
noon.' In the deep valleys which descend from 
the tableland of Moab, and those in the hills about 
Es Salt (Ramoth Gilead), the perennial streams are 
bordered with a thick growth of tamarisk, oleander, 
and tall reeds. Here I have often seen the shep- 
herds bring their flocks at noon to drink, and then 
rest in the deep, cool shade of the bushes by the 
water's side. David had, no doubt, often done the 
same when feeding his father's sheep, and had some 
such scene before his mind's eye when he penned 
the words (Ps. xxiii. 2) : ' He maketh me to lie 
down in green pastures : He leadeth me beside the 
still waters.' 

In Carmel, the Jebel Ajlun, and other wooded 


districts, the shepherds, when in late summer and 
autumn the pasture begins to get scanty, often cut 
down the large boughs of trees, especially those of 
the evergreen oak, that the sheep and goats may 
browse on the foliage. xVt such times there may 
be often seen in these districts an expectant flock 
round one of these trees, waiting patiently while 
the shepherd climbs up and with his axe chops off 
the more leafy branches. These, as they fall, are 
eagerly seized by his hungry charges, who quickly 
devour the foliage and tender shoots. This custom 
is referred to in Ezek. xxxiv. 29, R.V., and 
Mic. vii. 14. 

The practice is very destructive of the trees, not 
from the removal of the branches, but from fire. 
The boughs are left where they fall, and as the 
process is repeated year after year a pile of sticks 
gradually gathers round the tree. These are as 
dry as tinder, and a light carelessly thrown by a 
passing traveller or a grass fire sets the whole in 
a blaze. I have seen oaks which probably took 
hundreds of years to grow, and which could ill be 
spared in such a treeless land, thus destroyed in a 
few hours. 

In some parts of the Lebanon, during the autumn, 
when the silkworm season is over, sheep are regu- 
larly fattened with mulberry-leaves, which are care- 
fully gathered by hand for the purpose. The leaves 
are put into their mouths, and they are forced to 
eat even when unwilling to do so. The women 
may be actually seen working the poor animals' 
jaws with their hands to induce them to go on 


masticating their food. This hand-feeding is, how- 
ever, only done in the case of the sheep, of which 
every family that can possibly afford it buys one 
at least to feed up for the winter's supply of 
cooking fat. The Syrian breed of sheep has a very 
large broad tail consisting almost exclusively of fat, 
and when thus fed up this tail becomes of an enor- 
mous size, yielding, when the animal is slaughtered, 
many pounds of a very delicate fat, which is highly 
prized for cooking purposes. In the Mosaic ritual 
it was specially ordered to be offered to God 
(Lev. iii. 9, R.V.). 

In the winter and early spring many of the 
shepherds from the villages overlooking the Ghor 
take their flocks down there to graze. If a fairly 
abundant rain has fallen in the autumn in the 
Jordan Valley, owing to its warm, almost tropical 
climate, a rich growth of vegetation springs up 
there long before the uplands have begun to get 
green. At such times thousands of goats and 
sheep from the villages in the hill country may be 
seen there knee-deep in the luxuriant pasture. The 
shepherds who accompany these flocks sleep out 
with them in the open, scorched by the fierce sun 
by day, and shivering in the relatively cold air at 
night — just as Jacob complained to Laban, ' in the 
day the drought consumed me, and the frost by 
night ' (Gen. xxxi. 40). 

In sparsely inhabited districts, the shepherds who 
wander about with their flocks, as did Jacob's sons 
(Gen. xxxvii. 12-17), to find pasturage for them, 
sometimes make camps, pitching their tents for a 


few days in one place, and moving on to another 
when the grass in the vicinity has been eaten up. 
This is the thought in Hezekiah's lament (Isa. 
xxxviii. 12) — here in the morning, by noon gone, 
and not a vestige of them remaining. 

In hilly districts caves are often used by the 
wandering shepherds as shelter for their flocks by 
night. Especially is this the case in the wilderness 
of Judea, that bare, treeless tract of limestone hills 
which stretches from the central ridge of Palestine 
to the Dead Sea and lower part of the Jordan 
Valley. Here it is common to find caves whose 
roofs are blackened by smoke, with little heaps of 
ashes on the floor, and other signs of human 
occupation, while a low semicircular wall of 
rough loose stones guards the entrance. These 
are the sheepcotes (1 Sam. xxiv. 3). A notable 
instance of them is the huge cavern of the Mughar- 
at ul Jai in the Wady Suweinit, near Michmash, 
and which is probably the rock Rimmon where 
the 600 fugitives from the almost exterminated 
tribe of Benjamin took refuge (Judg. xx. 47). 

The late Dr. Edersheim, in an interesting 
passage on the appearance of the angels to the 
shepherds announcing the Saviour's birth ('Life 
and Times of Jesus the Messiah,' vol. i., pp. 186, 
187), infers from a paragraph in the Mishna that 
the Temple flocks in the vicinity of Bethlehem lay 
out all the year round. Owing to the geographical 
position of that place, there would be no difficulty 
about this, even in the coldest weather. The little 
town is situated on an outlying spur on the eastern 


side of the great ridge or backbone which, with one 
single break only, runs down the entire length of 
Palestine. In front — that is, in the direction of the 
Dead Sea — the ground falls so rapidly that it would 
be possible in quite a short time, and at no very 
great distance from it, to descend as much as 
1,000 feet, and at this point snow would never lie. 

I well remember riding out one bright Sunday 
morning in winter, some years ago, to conduct an 
Arabic service at Bethlehem. A heavy fall of 
snow had taken place during the night, and the 
country all round Jerusalem was covered with a 
white mantle. But when I had crossed the low olive- 
clad ridge to the south of the Plain of Rephaim, 
and could look down into the valleys around 
Bethlehem, I saw that they were entirely free from 
snow. At some 700 or 800 feet below the town it 
ceased abruptly, and there was a sharp line of 
demarcation, running as straight and true as if 
drawn by a rule, along the slopes of the eastern 

Now, the phraseology of the passage (St. Luke ii. 8) 
would seem to require that the shepherds should 
have been some little distance below the town. 
They were ' abiding in the field ' — that is, the open 
country (see note, p. 163). But in all probability 
the slopes immediately around Bethlehem were 
then, as now, terraced and planted with olives, 
vines, fig-trees, etc., so that the spot where the 
shepherds were watching on that memorable night 
must have been some place below the zone of 
cultivation. Tradition is too often an untrust- 



worthy guide as to the location of sites, but in this 
case it is certainly noteworthy that the spot which 
it points out as the scene of the appearance of the 
angelic visitant lies far below the town. Other 
facts point in the same direction, one of them being 
that in the valleys it is considerably warmer, and the 
grass springs earlier there than on the surrounding 
hills ; consequently, in winter, flocks are often taken 
down there, as well as to the Ghor, to graze. I 
once passed a cold night in January in the Wady 
Mojib (the Arnon), east of the Dead Sea. The 
hills above us were white with snow, but none was 
to be found in the deep valley ; while a large flock 
of goats and sheep, under the care of two shepherds, 
was folded for the night in a large shallow cave 
within two or three hundred yards of the spot 
where my tent was pitched. 

Flocks are also sometimes taken down into these 
valleys from the higher villages on the approach of 
bad weather, in order to escape the cold and wet, 
and to find pasture, which in the event of a snow- 
storm would, in the uplands, be buried. This 
precaution is specially needful in the case of goats, 
which are much more sensitive to cold and wet 
than sheep, as the fleeces of the latter form a much 
more efficient protection than the comparatively 
scanty hair of the former. One of the last occa- 
sions on which I stayed at Es Salt (the ancient 
Ramoth Gilead) was in mid- winter. One morning 
I discovered that no milk was to be had in the 
town, and inquiries elicited the fact that the 
weather threatened a heavy fall of snow (which 


came in a day or two), and all the goats and sheep 
had been taken to the low-lying valleys in order to 
escape it. 

Though goats and sheep are, from one point of 
view, among the most valuable of the peasants' 
assets, yet in one particular direction they do great 
harm to the country. I refer to the way in which 
they destroy the young trees and shrubs. This 
indictment applies more especially to the goats. 
There is hardly anything green which these animals 
will not devour, while sheep are much more 
fastidious. On this account goats will thrive 
where sheep would starve. In the open country, 
where there is scrub or brushwood of oak or tere- 
binth which would, if left a few years, develop into 
the forest trees which are such a lack in Palestine, 
the flocks may often be seen browsing on the leaves 
and tender shoots. In this way they effectually 
prevent the growth and development of the woods, 
which are at the present time probably the most 
urgent need, from an agricultural point of view. 

In the late autumn, when pasture is becoming 
very scarce, the owners of vineyards will, after the 
grapes have been gathered, allow the flocks to be 
turned into them. It would, I think, be hard to 
parallel the picture of dreary desolation which a 
vineyard presents after it has been thus eaten down 
by goats ; and no more fitting or more graphic 
illustration of the utter ruin of the country could 
be given than Jeremiah's application of the figure 
to the condition of Judah and Jerusalem after the 
Chaldean invasion (Jer. xii. 10, 11). 

12 9 


The shepherds often have dogs with them, not, 
as in England, to drive the sheep, but to help in 
guarding them, and to give notice of the approach 
of robbers, human or otherwise. Though they are 
poor mongrel curs compared with our collies, yet 
they are very efficient, and are often really brave. 
Three or four years ago a pair of leopards was 
haunting a wooded district in Central Palestine, 
and one of these shepherd dogs, in the discharge of 
his duty, boldly attacked one of them, and was 
killed while thus endeavouring to guard the flock. 

The shepherds are rarely, if ever, the owners of 
the entire flock, though not unfrequently a portion 
of the sheep and goats may belong to them. For 
the most part, especially in Western Palestine, they 
are merely hired to do the work. The rate of 
wages varies a good deal in the different parts of 
the country, but more especially with the number 
of sheep or goats of which the flock consists. In 
some districts the shepherd receives a certain 
amount of corn per head per annum. More 
commonly, particularly if the flock be small, he 
receives a trifling money payment, about tenpence 
per head per annum, his food, and one or two suits 
of clothes* yearly, according to the agreement with 
him. In yet other places his remuneration is the 
milk of the flock every other day. This latter only 
holds good, as far as I am aware, in the neighbour- 
hood of towns where there would be a ready sale 

* Compare the account of the wages given by Micah to 
the Levite from Beth-lehem-judah whom he hired to be his 
priest (Judg. xvii. 10). 


for milk, Leben, butter, and cheese. In any case, 
the shepherd is allowed free use of the milk of the 
flock for himself (1 Cor. ix. 7). In the country 
east of the Jordan the shepherd receives every 
tenth lamb or kid each year, and thus in time 
becomes the owner of a good deal of the flock. 
This method of payment is often preferred to any 
other, as the shepherds who are thus paid are 
considered to become more skilful, and to take 
better care of the sheep and goats, than those who 
are simply hirelings. 

In the maritime plain, as soon as the harvest has 
been reaped, many shepherds from the villages in 
the hill country bring their flocks down there to 
pasture. The owners of gardens in the district 
build large enclosures for these flocks, with a room 
for the shepherd, and allow the free use of them for 
the sake of the resultant manure, which is highly 
valued for the vegetable gardens and as fuel for 
the ovens. In these folds the goats and sheep are 
often separated at night, although during the day 
they graze promiscuously. Where this is done the 
sheep sleep in the open courtyard, while the goats 
are in the inner room. The reason which the 
Fellahin give for this separation is the fact, already 
mentioned, that the goats, having a much scantier 
natural protection than the sheep, are far more 
sensitive to cold and wet (especially to snow), and 
consequently require more shelter than they do. 
The sheep, too, cannot endure a close atmosphere, 
and must be in the open air if they are to continue 


In the spring the young kids and lambs are 
usually not allowed to go out with their mothers, 
as they would not stand the incessant walking, but 
are kept at home. When a little older they are 
sent out for a short distance, in small flocks, each 
flock being generally in charge of a boy, who thus 
begins his training for the work of a shepherd. 

The shepherds are almost invariably armed. Many 
carry some sort of firearm, frequently of a very 
antiquated pattern, from the old flint-lock musket 
down to a muzzle-loading fowling-piece. Others 
have only a club or bludgeon, perhaps supplemented 
by a dagger or sling, or both. This club is about 
2 J feet long, of oak or other heavy wood, with a head 
or knob as large as a good-sized orange, and from 
which it is colloquially termed Dubbus, or 'pin.' It 
is in the hands of a strong man a most formidable 
weapon, and with such a club it is easy to under- 
stand how David could have killed either lion or 
bear, or any other wild beast that he might have 
had to encounter (1 Sam. xvii. 34, 35). About 
Es Salt a club of a different kind is used. Instead 
of having a knob at the further end, it is, for the 
last third of its length, somewhat curved, with sharp 
angles, a section of this portion being as follows <j> 
Like the JDubbus, it is made of oak, and it is said 
that a powerful man has been known, with a back- 
handed stroke from such a club, to cut a man's 
head off — a statement which is by no means in- 
credible. The club is often carried by being thrust 
into the girdle, where it is available at a moment's 
notice, and yet leaves both hands free. 


A 'scrip' (1 Sam. xvii. 40) usually completes 
a shepherd's equipment. This is a leather bag, the 
skin of a kid, or other small animal, stripped off 
whole. In it the shepherd puts his pipe, flint and 
steel, tobacco, and flute, and any other little things 
he may need. Food, also, will not unfrequently 
be carried in it, especially if he be likely to sleep 
out with his flock — a few loaves of bread, a hand- 
ful of dried figs, or some olives, to give a little 
flavour to the dry fare. It was, I think, most 
probably the contents of some shepherd-lad's scrip 
that furnished the five barley loaves and two little 
dried fish with which the Lord fed the five 

Cattle are tended much in the same way as the 
sheep during those seasons of the year when they 
are not used for work. They are sent out in herds 
to graze, with one or more herdsmen to look after 
them. They are much smaller than our cattle, and 
generally in but poor condition. Most of the 
ploughing and threshing is done by their means, as 
will be described when we come to speak of those 
occupations. In the villages the cows are rarely 
if ever milked, and the flesh is never eaten. In the 
towns it is only of late years that cow's milk was 
procurable, or beef to be seen in the butchers' 

Like the sheep, the cattle are taken into the Jordan 
Valley to graze in years when there is much grass 
there. During the time they are in the Ghor, the 
herdsmen who tend them (and also the shepherds 
who bring their flocks down there) receive special 


remuneration, according to the number of days they 
are absent from home. These men keep a record 
of the time spent there by cutting a notch on a 
stick for each day they are in the Ghor, much in 
the style of the old English ' tallies ' in the days of 
our forefathers. Boys are commonly employed to 
herd the cattle when grazing in the open country 
round the villages, but when sent to a distance 
they are committed to more responsible hands. 
Among the Druzes, the old men who are past 
ordinary manual labour are set to tend the herds, 
a custom which is the object of much ridicule on 
the part of their Christian neighbours. Though 
extensively employed for ploughing and threshing, 
I have never seen cattle used by the Fellahin to 
draw any wheeled vehicle. 

Around the Sea of Galilee, in the district about 
Carmel, and the neighbourhood of Gaza, buffaloes 
are found to a small extent. They are very power- 
fid, and are used for ploughing and similar work ; 
but though closely resembling, if not identical with, 
the Central African species, the Palestine buffaloes 
seem very harmless and inoffensive. 

The camel is to-day, and probably always has 
been, the chief beast of burden, in the strict mean- 
ing of the term. It is only within the last twenty- 
five years that there have been any roads in Pales- 
tine suitable for carts or carriages ; and what roads 
there are now are very few, and chiefly about 
Jerusalem. Hence, practically all the heavy traffic 
of the country is carried on by means of camels. 
Some of the peasants get their living by camel- 



Tofacepagi 164 


driving. They own one or more of these animals, 
and hire them out to carry goods from the sea- 
ports to the interior, from town to town, or 
from the villages to the cities and towns. Thus, 
nearly all the building stone used in Jerusalem is 
brought into the city from the quarries on the backs 
of camels, and, notwithstanding the existence of the 
railroad between Jaffa and Jerusalem, much of the 
heavy traffic between the two places is still carried 
by means of these animals. From the districts 
east of the Jordan, especially the rich corn-lands of 
the Belka and Hauran, nearly all the grain is sent 
to the western towns, and for shipment, by these 

The camel is by no means a pleasant animal with 
which to deal, for while in some ways exceedingly 
stupid, he has, on the other hand, a very good 
memory, and never forgets or forgives an injury. 
A young camel-driver whom I know was on one 
occasion taking a load of charcoal to his village. 
His camel was going along very sluggishly, and he 
gave it three or four cuts with a switch ; this the 
beast greatly resented. On arriving at his destina- 
tion, he asked one of his brothers to unload the 
camel, and fasten it up in its shed, as he felt sure, 
from the habits of these animals, that it would take 
the earliest opportunity of paying off its score. The 
brother did so, feeding the beast and securing it 
for the night. Later in the evening the young- 
man had occasion to fetch something from the 
shed where the camel was stabled. He rather 
incautiously got within reach of the animal, which 


was watching its opportunity. Quick as lightning 
the creature seized the man by the arm with its 
huge jaws, making the teeth meet in the flesh, and 
shook him as a terrier shakes a rat, finally flinging 
him, bruised and bleeding, with great violence 
against the wall. 

A Fellah from a village in Southern Palestine, 
who owned a number of camels, once told me how, 
on a certain occasion, he beat one of them for lazi- 
ness. Next morning he started early, with some other 
animals, for Jerusalem, and was absent for about a 
fortnight. By the time that he had got back to 
his village he had forgotten all about the incident, 
but not so the camel. The instant the beast caught 
sight of him it rushed at him, hunted him all over 
the place, and would undoubtedly have killed him, 
had not some men come to his rescue and beaten 
it off. 

Camels are subject to a good many diseases. 
On one of my numerous missionary journeys I was 
sitting on a threshing-floor talking to a little group 
of men, when I suddenly heard a voice behind me 
say : ' Would you look at this camel, sir V Turning 
round, I saw a huge snarling beast standing over 
me. ' What's the matter with it ?' I asked, * Well, 
it's got the toothache,' was the reply, ' and I thought 
perhaps you could pull its tooth out for it.' Cer- 
tainly the poor creature seemed in much pain, for 
it had a huge swollen cheek, caused by a large 
abscess at the root of the tooth. But a camel, even 
when in good health, is, to put it mildly, not a 
sweet-tempered animal ; and one with the tooth- 


ache Well, I hope I was truly sympathetic, 

but I must confess that I was much relieved to be 
able to say that I had no instruments with me. 

The camels are, I believe, always obtained from 
the Bedouin, who rear very large numbers of them, 
which they sell to the Fellahin, frequently stealing 
them from one another for the purpose. 

The Arabic word for camel is from the same 
root as one of the commonest words for ' beautiful,' 
a term which in its masculine and feminine forms 
is frequently used as a name for boys and girls. 
For long I used to wonder how the Arabs could 
possibly associate the idea of beauty with the ill- 
tempered, mangy, evil-smelling beast with which 
one is so familiar in Palestine. But I found that 
one reason of their ugliness is the custom the 
Fellahin have of keeping their camels close-clipped, 
and when I had seen the breed owned by the 
Turcomans, with their clean, slender limbs, shaped 
like those of a greyhound, and their long necks, 
covered with great dark tawny manes — almost 
like those of lions — I ceased to wonder at the 
derivation of the word. 



In no country of the world, probably, is agriculture 
of such supreme importance to the inhabitants as 
it is in Palestine. Palestine has, as far as is now 
known, no mineral wealth, neither are there any 
manufactures other than the few local industries, 
w r hich are barely sufficient to supply the local 
needs. Consequently the country has nothing in 
the way of exports with which to pay for its 
imports, except the products of the soil, as wheat 
and barley, oil and wine, etc. 

The word ' Fellahin ' (more correctly ' Fellahun ') 
is the plural of the word ' Fellah,' a word in the form 
of the ' noun of intensity,' as Arab grammarians 
call it, the form usually employed for words in- 
dicating trade or occupation, and derived from the 
verb falah, to cleave or divide — i.e., the earth ; 
another ' measure ' of this same verb, aflah, means 
to prosper, as the peasantry were formerly the 
wealthy people, the cultivation of the soil being, 
with cattle-rearing and sheep-keeping, the chief 
source of wealth. The Fellahin, thus, are the 
ploughmen, or farmers, and in any account of them 



the subject of the cultivation of the soil must take 
a foremost place. 

The soil of Palestine is for the most part a dark 
reddish-brown, naturally suggesting the connection 
between Adam and the ground from which he was 
taken ; especially is this colour noticeable when the 
soil is newly turned, either by the plough or in 

It will, perhaps, be simplest to speak first of the 
tenure of the land. Till within recent years — that 
is, within the memory of many still living — the land 
was held by the village as a whole, and not by the 
individual peasants. Since, however, the Ottoman 
Government commenced to levy taxes on the land 
and crops it has become chiefly the property of 
individuals, who must have title-deeds for the same, 
duly registered in the Government offices. 

In some cases, however, land is still held in 
common, and before the ploughing begins it has to 
be divided among those villagers who wish to culti- 
vate any of it. Not all will wish to do so ; but in 
one village I know, where land was held in common, 
the following method was adopted for dividing it : 
As soon as the number of would-be cultivators was 
known, the land was marked out in an equal number 
of portions, so as to give each an equivalent number 
of portions of good, bad, and indifferent soil. Each 
candidate brought with him a leaf of some tree or 
plant, and these leaves were stuck into a lump of 
clay. A man, not a candidate, but who knew the 
land well, was called in and given this lump of clay ; 
he did not know who had brought the different 



leaves, and therefore was perforce impartial. Taking 
each leaf, he said, ' Such-and-such portion to the 
owner of this,' and so on till all was allotted. 

There are three descriptions of property, viz. : 
Amiri (vulgarly Mm), or Government land ; Mulk> 
or freehold ; and Wakf, ecclesiastical lands, or lands 
in mortmain. The land of cities and villages, with 
their suburbs, is freehold ; but the open fields are 
Government land, their tenure answering, perhaps, 
more nearly to our copyhold than to anything else, 
the Government being, however, the person who 
claims the ground rents. No one may build on 
this Government land without permission from the 
authorities, as it thereby becomes freehold, and so 
is lost, as it were, to the Government. But anyone 
buying a vineyard, or any other piece of such pro- 
perty, has a right, should he so desire, to build 
himself a dwelling-house on it, but even in this case 
formal permission has by law to be obtained. Such 
lands, if not cultivated for a series of years, lapse to 
the Government. The ecclesiastical lands ( Wakf) 
are the property of mosques, churches, schools, or 
other institutions, religious or charitable. Included 
under this head are lands in mortmain. Persons 
sometimes leave property to their families, but, in 
order to prevent its being sold away, grant it by 
formal deed to a church, mosque, etc., on the 
extinction of their family, so that as long as there 
is any descendant of the testator existing the pro- 
perty cannot be claimed by the church or other 
institution, nor will the law allow it to be sold out 
of that family. No lands coming under either 


description of Wakf can be sold, except by permis- 
sion of the Sheikh ul Islam in Constantinople. 
This difficulty is sometimes got over, however, by 
a legal fiction known as Istibddl, or 'exchange,' 
where the property which it is wished to sell is 
supposed to be exchanged for a better one. Besides 
the above descriptions of property, there is a great 
deal of land, and much of it some of the best 
in the country, which is the Sultan's personal 
property, and which is farmed for him by an 

When land is sold, if there be trees upon it, 
these are not sold with it unless this is specially 
agreed upon, and entered accordingly in the deed 
of sale. The purchase by Abraham of the cave 
of Machpelah and the adjacent land, with the 
trees (Gen. xxiii. 17), shows how very ancient is 
this custom. It is no uncommon thing for the 
land to belong to one man, and the trees to another. 
I know of a case, and doubtless there are other 
similar cases, where the ground belongs to one 
village, and the trees on it to another. 

In another case land was purchased for philan- 
thropic purposes by a committee, of which I was a 
member, but we were only able to buy a third of 
the trees — that is to say, we did not buy out and out 
one-third of the total number of trees on the estate, 
but a right to a third of their produce. 

Should the owner of the trees allow them, by his 
neglect, to disappear, he loses all right over the land, 
and cannot replant them. On the other hand, the 
owner of the trees can oblige the owner of the land 


to till it, as otherwise the trees deteriorate, and 
their value is consequently diminished. 

Before describing the actual operations of agri- 
culture, a few words are necessary about the climate 
of Palestine and the rains. For the most part the 
climate is an intensely dry one. For six months, 
viz., from the end of April to the beginning of 
November, there is, as a rule, no rain whatever. 
Very occasionally a shower will occur in summer, 
but this is quite abnormal. By the end of the 
summer the herbage is dried up, except in the rare 
cases where there are permanent streams or irriga- 
tion, and the leaves of the deciduous trees are fall- 
ing, the only green in many places being that of the 
olive. The passing traveller who sees the shepherd 
leading his flock over the bare brown hillside or 
desert-like plain wonders how the sheep and goats 
can possibly exist. 

The winter torrents have long since ceased to 
run, the shallower springs have become dry, and 
the permanent ones have shrunk to their lowest 
ebb. The rain-fed cisterns, the sole water-supply 
of many a village, have in numerous cases been 
drained to the last drop, and in the majority of 
those which are not exhausted the depth of water 
is measured by inches only. The SMrocco, or east 
winds from the Syrian desert, have swept with their 
scorching breath over the land. The heavy red 
loam, which constitutes so large a part of the 
arable soil of Palestine, is baked into strong clods 
which the feeble plough cannot break. Wild birds 
and animals have become bold in their thirst, and 


there is an intensity of longing for the rain, unknown 
in more-favoured lands. About the end of October 
or beginning of November, in favourable years, 
clouds begin to gather on the western horizon, 
especially at sunset. Distant lightning plays across 
the sky, and an occasional shower, chiefly at night, 
gives promise of what is to follow. After a few 
days the clouds gather more thickly, the roll of 
thunder is heard,, and finally the windows of heaven 
seem to open, and torrents of rain descend. The 
Fellahin have seen the storm coming, and all pre- 
parations have been made. The earthen roofs of 
the houses have been repaired, fresh soil having 
been scattered over them and rolled hard ; the 
underground cisterns have been cleared out, and 
the channels leading to them put in order ; oxen 
have been bought or trained ; ploughs have been 
mended and goads put in order, or new ones pro- 
cured ; the earth round the fruit-trees has been 
hoed up ; and in the plains faggots have been 
placed against the walls of the houses on the 
weather side, in exposed situations, and especially 
at the corners, that the rain may not wash away 
the mud of which they are composed. 

As in olden days, there are still the former and 
the latter rains, and it is of the utmost importance 
for the crops that these should fall in their due 
season (Deut. xi. 14). There seems to be a good 
deal of confusion in some Western minds about 
these rains, due, probably, to the fact, often for- 
gotten, that the Jewish year began at a different 
time to ours. The ecclesiastical new year com- 



menced on the first of Nisan, which coincides, 
approximately, with our April, and the civil year 
in September. Consequently the former rains will 
be those which fall in our autumn — October, 
November, and December. This is what in normal 
years is the case. Then usually, from about the 
beginning of December, is a period of dry weather 
or but slight rainfall, while from the middle or end 
of January the latter rains may be said to com- 
mence, continuing at intervals to April, or occa- 
sionally even to May. These latter rains in ordinary 
years are much the more abundant of the two, 
this fact being probably the point of the passage 
Zech. x. 1. 

In the Lebanon and on the maritime plain of 
Palestine the rains begin earlier than they do in 
the central hill region. The average rainfall of 
Palestine proper, as far as accurate observations 
have been made, is about 26 inches per annum, but 
in the Lebanon, and probably also in Northern 
Palestine, it is a good deal higher. 

The most suitable time for the rains to commence 
is from the end of October to the end of November. 
Should they begin earlier, there is too long an in- 
terval between the former and the latter rains, and 
the corn sown then withers before these later ones 
are due. Should the season be very late, there is 
not time for the corn to fully develop before the 
rains finally cease and the hot weather sets in. 

January is the coldest month, but there is popu- 
larly supposed to be always a spell of sharp weather 
about the end of February and the beginning of 


March. The last four days of the former month and 
the three first of the latter are called the ' borrowed 
days,' from the following story : February, so it 
runs, having only twenty-eight days, goes to March, 
and says, ' Oh, my brother ! lend me three days, 
and I will put four to them, and we will make it 
so cold that the old woman will break up her 
spinning-wheel to burn to keep herself warm.' 

As the ploughing-time gets near, the Fellahin 
may often be seen trying a newly-purchased yoke 
of oxen (St. Luke xiv. 19) on one of the small 
enclosed patches of ground near the village, or 
breaking in a young animal that has never before 
been under the yoke. In the latter case, an older 
one, accustomed to the work, is always yoked with 
the younger one, thus helping to teach it. 

When the rains are near, or when only a small 
amount insufficient to saturate the soil has fallen, 
they sometimes plough over the ground simply to 
break it up. No seed, of course, is then sown, and 
the furrows are wider apart than when the regular 
ploughing takes place. Where ground is so treated 
the heavy autumnal showers soak in more thoroughly 
than when the smooth, sun-baked surface, trodden 
hard by the flocks and herds, is left in its natural 

In some few cases ploughing and sowing can be 
done before the rains come. In places where the 
soil is light enough to allow of this, as, e.g., in 
some parts of the Belka, east of the Jordan, I have 
seen considerable tracts sown before a drop of rain 
falls ; such crops are called ' Aj'ir. This practice 



has one advantage over that usually followed — viz., 
that crops so sown get the benefit of the whole of 
the rainfall, no small matter in a hot country where 
the cessation of the rain two or three weeks earlier 
or later may make all the difference between a good 
and a bad harvest. On the other hand, weeds are 
much more abundant than with the ordinary method, 
thus exhausting the soil and weakening the crop. 

In the late spring severe thunderstorms occur 
now and then, accompanied with deluges of rain, 
which sometimes do immense harm. Some years 
ago one of these storms took place during the feast 
of Neby Miisa. A party of Moslem pilgrims from 
a village about three hours north of Jerusalem was 
on its way to the shrine, their road being along the 
bottom of one of the numerous valleys which run 
down from the central ridge towards the Gh6r. 
Seeing the storm approaching, they all took refuge 
in a cave, and when it broke torrents of rain poured 
down the steep sides of the mountain in thousands 
of tiny streams, increasing in volume every moment ; 
and as each gully and glen added its quota, the 
valley, which had been as dry as the desert, became 
filled with a raging flood, which swept everything 
before it with pitiless power. The water rose 
rapidly to the mouth of the cave, and the people 
in it, seeing their danger, sought to escape. A 
man took his two little boys, one under each arm, 
and tried to struggle through the torrent to the 
other side, but first one and then the other was 
swept from his grasp and drowned before his eyes ; 
and of all the people, thirty or forty in number. 



1 m 


who had taken refuge in the cave, scarcely any- 
remained to tell the tale. It is to such a torrent 
coming down the valley, like a wall of water, and 
sweeping all before it, that Solomon likens the 
oppression of the poor (Pro v. xxviii. 3). 

Should the rain be much delayed, and the crops 
be in danger of drying up, the children go about 
the villages beating drums, old tins, or anything 
else that will make a noise, shouting and singing in 
chorus the following words : ' Oh, Lord ! rain — oh, 
Lord ! a torrent ; water Thy thirsty crops.' The 
idea in children doing this is that they are not so 
sinful as the older people, and that therefore God 
is more likely to hear their prayers. In the Jebel 
Ajlun, on the other hand, in seasons of drought, 
they take an old woman, preferably the sheikh's 
wife, and putting her on a donkey, with her face 
to its tail, the women lead her round the village, 
singing and praying for rain. 

When the rain has fallen in sufficient quantity? 
ploughing and sowing begin at once. The seed is 
sown, usually, on the unploughed land, the plough 
following immediately and turning it in with the 
soil. The share does not, however, turn over the 
soil as in the case of an English plough, but merely 
breaks it up from below, the seed falling in between 
the clods. Besides the cases where land is partially 
ploughed before sowing, as already mentioned, 
peasants who have plenty of oxen will occasionally 
break up land three times before sowing the seed, 
this latter operation taking place on the third 
ploughing, and where this is done the crop is said 


to be always superior to that sown on land ploughed 
but once. 

The ploughing is chiefly done by oxen, and the 
ordinary term for a yoke of oxen, Fcddan, is used 
for the area which they will plough in a day. 
Although there are no hedges or walls to divide 
the different properties, the land is usually ploughed 
in small plots, a furrow, 77////, of 30 or 40 yards 
being run on the ground, and others ploughed 
parallel to this, till a piece of that length and about 
half the breadth is finished ; and then a second 
similar piece is ploughed next, and so on till the 
whole is completed. These plots are called McCandh. 
and are usually one-third or one-fourth of a Feddcui, 
and in some parts of the maritime plain this is used 
as a measure of land instead of the latter term. 
In the hill districts, on the terraced sides of the 
valleys and mountains, the shape and size of the 
piece ploughed at one time is determined by the 
dimensions of the terraces. Where two men's land 
adjoins each other, a double furrow is driven be- 
tween the two plots, and piles of stones are set up 
at short intervals in this furrow. There is a refer- 
ence to this practice in Hos. xii. 11, the idea there 
being that the altars of the idolatrous Israelites 
were as numerous as the boundary heaps in a wide 
stretch of arable land. 

Although oxen are chiefly used to draw the 
plough, yet one not unfrequently sees oxen and 
asses yoked together, a practice forbidden to the 
Israelites (Deut. xxii. 10). The Fellahin recognise 
the disparity of such a pair, and often contrive to 



page 198. 


give the ox, as being the stronger animal of the 
two, the outside at corners, etc. In some places 
they use camels largely for this work, and occasion- 
ally a diminutive donkey may be seen attached to 
the same plough with a tall camel, forming as 
grotesquely ill-matched a pair as it is possible to 
imagine. Mules, horses, and in a few districts 
buffaloes, are also harnessed — the two former, 
singly, to a plough. It is said not to be unknown, 
either, for a poor man, who only owns a single ass, 
to harness his wife to make up the pair ! Where the 
land is fairly level it is common for the people to 
plough in company (1 Kings xix. 19), and on the 
maritime plain, between Jaffa and Gaza, I have 
seen upwards of sixty ploughs at work at one time, 
in a comparatively small area. 

One noticeable feature of the agriculture of Pales- 
tine is the Terraces— Hibdl (lit., ropes or cords)— to 
be found everywhere throughout the hill country, 
and attaining great perfection in the Lebanon. 
The sides of the hills and valleys are often very 
steep, and in order to prevent the earth being 
washed away by the heavy rains, as well as to 
facilitate cultivation, are carefully terraced. These 
terraces are formed by building low retaining walls 
of rough, undressed stone, without mortar, in lines 
parallel to the line of the valley, the earth being 
levelled up behind to the top of the wall. These 
terraces vary greatly in depth and width, the walls 
being often only a foot or eighteen inches in height, 
but sometimes, where there is a line of natural 
rock below on which the wall rests, 7 or 8 feet, 


while occasionally they are much higher even than 

The natural shelves of rock, which are very 
characteristic of the geological formation of much 
of Palestine, no doubt originally suggested these 
artificial terraces, which date from very ancient 
times, as is seen by the traces of them in remote 
parts of the country where there has been no 
cultivation for ages. In the districts where vine 
and fruit-trees are grown, the terraces add much to 
the beauty of the hillsides. A row of fig-trees, 
mulberries, etc., will often be seen planted near the 
outer edge, where the soil is deepest, and in the 
spaces between them and the wall of the terrace 
above vegetables will be grown, or the land 
will be ploughed, and corn, lentils, or other crops, 
sown there. Vines are commonly planted close to 
the outer wall, the branches being trained so that 
they hang down over it. In the early summer, 
when the vines are in their fresh green foliage, the 
picture, as one looks at such a terraced hillside from 
below, with cascade after cascade of brilliant verdure 
relieved by the darker hue of the olive and fig, the 
warm red-brown colour of the soil, and the gray of 
the stone walls peeping out here and there, is very 

Where there are no trees, as is commonly the case, 
the terraces look like a great staircase of irregular, 
uneven steps, ascending the hills. In places these 
terraces are very numerous, especially on the sides 
of the deeper valleys, and in the Lebanon I have 
counted between seventy and eighty of them one 


above the other ; and very likely in some parts there 
are more than even this number to be found on a 
single hillside. 

When men are ploughing or engaged in any 
other field labour, they usually take off their outer 
cloak, or sheepskin coat, and throw it on the ground 
beside them. To this custom our Lord alludes in 
St. Matt. xxiv. 18. The assault of the enemy 
would be so sudden and unexpected, that he who 
would save his life must not even delay long 
enough to go back the few yards necessary to get 
his clothes. This would be true even to-day in 
Palestine when raids are made by robbers or 

The wooden ploughs which are universally used, 
rude and primitive as they seem to a Western eye, 
are eminently suited to the work they have to 
perform, and are more complex than would appear 
at a hasty glance, having been probably evolved, 
by the teaching of experience, from a simpler form. 
The plough itself, apart from the yoke, consists of 
six main parts which, with slight variations of 
detail, are found everywhere throughout the 
country. The most important part is the elbow - 
shaped piece of wood (Dthikr) — No. 1 in the accom- 
panying sketch. On this comes the main strain, 
and therefore it is, I believe, invariably a naturally 
curved piece of timber, as no conceivable joint 
would stand for long the severe work thrown on it. 
On the lower end of this fits the iron share {Sikkeh), 
Xo. 2, a term often applied to the whole plough, as 
in the saying, ' April's rain is worth the plough and 


yoke of oxen.' A smaller, slightly curved piece of 
wood (Rakub), No. 3, joins No. 1 with 4 (Id or Ydd), 
which is dovetailed into the former, and terminates 
in a cross-piece of wood (Kabitseh), No. 6, the two 
forming the handle by which the plough is lifted 
and guided. Into the upper end of No. 1 is secured 
a long pole (Barak or 'Oud), No. 5, and to this a 
second tapering stick is fastened, usually by a 
couple of iron rings ( JFasl), No. 8, which completes 
the implement, this latter pole being attached at 
its further end to the yoke, by means of an iron pin 
(J aru?'). The yoke (Nir) consists of a long, stout 
piece of wood in which are four pegs (Semnaneh), 
No. 1, which go on either side of the necks of the 
oxen, and are secured by thongs or cords (Shebak), 
No. 2, under their throats, one of each pair of 
cords having a loop at the end, and the other 
a wooden toggle (Asfureli). These cords are often 
made of hair from the tails of cattle — hence the 
proverb, ' The ox's cord [which binds him to the 
yoke] is from its own tail.' It will be noticed how 
little iron is used in the construction of these 
ploughs, nails, even, being for the most part 
replaced by wooden pegs, and consequently there is 
probably more yielding of the whole when, as is so 
often the case in the hilly parts, it comes into 
sudden contact with a hidden rock or huge stone. 

Spades are unknown in Palestine ; a broad heart- 
shaped hoe is used instead in most parts of the 
country, and in the sandy districts of the maritime 
plain a similar instrument, but with a different 
blade, somewhat the shape of, and almost as large 


as, an English spade, is ordinarily found. In the 
mountains, or anywhere where the soil is hard or 
stony, a rude kind of pick is employed — e.g., as in 
breaking up the corners of a field where the plough 
cannot reach. 

When the corn begins to grow, the weeds appear 
with it, and when the latter attain any size they 
are pulled up carefully, and carried away in bundles 
by the women, being used as fodder for the horses, 
cattle, and camels, a custom apparently referred to 
in Prov. xxvii. 25, R.V. In the Lebanon the 
coarser weeds, thistles, brambles, and such-like, are 
cut and dried, and then used for fuel for the bakers 1 

There is a considerable amount of irrigation in 
those parts of the country fortunate enough to 
possess permanent streams. More particularly is 
this the case in the Ghor and the valleys running 
down into it, as the Zerka or Jabbok, Nimrin, and 
Yarmuk, on the east, Jalud, Farah, and Aujeh, on 
the west, all of which have perennial brooks of 
considerable volume. In these wadies, and the 
level lands along their courses in the Jordan Valley, 
immense areas are ploughed and sown every year, 
and, being watered by these streams, are independent 
of the rains, producing luxuriant crops of grain 
even when the harvest is a failure everywhere else. 

To come suddenly on one of these watered 
tracts after riding for hours, or perhaps days, over 
the scorched, verdureless plains, where not a blade 
of grass nor green leaf is to be seen, and note the 
abundance of life in all its tropical luxuriance 



wherever the river comes, is as refreshing as it is 

In the neighbourhood of Beisan, where there are 
miles and miles of such irrigated lands, tall plat- 
forms are erected on poles among the growing 
wheat and barley, and on them are perched watch- 
men, as the grain develops, to scare away the wild 
birds and animals, keep the cattle from straying 
into the crops, and give warning of the attempts of 





As might be supposed in a country where there is 
such a great variety of climate, the time of harvest 
differs much in the various parts. Thus, I have 
known the new barley (the earliest crop) on sale, 
from the neighbourhood of Gaza, in the middle of 
March ; while, on the other hand, I have seen 
barley still growing on the higher parts of the 
Lebanon in August. In the neighbourhood of 
Jerusalem harvest operations are ordinarily in full 
swing by the end of April or the beginning of May. 

When the corn is ripe, the whole family often 
goes out into the harvest-field. Men and women 
take part in the reaping ; the elder children, boys 
and girls, drive the animals which carry the grain 
to the threshing-floors, and the younger children 
play about ; while the babies are hung in a kind of 
bag to a tripod of sticks, or sheltered under a cloak 
thrown over the tripod. 

The corn is cut by the reaper grasping a handful, 
some distance below the ears, with his left hand, and 
severing the stalks with a stroke of the sickle an 
inch or two above the ground. In many cases, 



especially where the soil is shallow or stony, the 
grain is pulled bodily up by the roots. The corn is 
placed in small piles on the ground, and usually 
carried away at once to the threshing-floors. In 
the maritime plain I have seen low stacks of corn 
on the field. These are, however, only temporary, 
the reason of the corn being left thus being, pro- 
bably, the abundance of the crop, and the lack 
of space on which to store it on the threshing- 
floors. It is usually carried on the backs of animals 
from the field to the threshing-floors, being cleverly 
tied in bundles in great quantities on the animal's 
back, or packed in nets, and thus can be conveyed 
great distances over rough ground without loss. 
At harvest-time a moving mass of corn may often 
be met coming along the narrow paths on the 
mountain-side. As these animated ricks approach, 
one can make out underneath each mass, and 
almost entirely concealed by it, a diminutive 
donkey, little of it being visible but its head and 
ears. The work is extremely severe, and in very 
hilly districts many donkeys are worked to death 
during harvest. The people themselves also toil 
very hard during the brief reaping-time. I have 
seen them busy in the fields at three o'clock in the 
morning, long before daybreak. 

The harvest in the southern part of Palestine, 
especially in the plains about Gaza, is much earlier 
than in Central Palestine, and is also more abundant, 
being often more than the people of the village can 
reap in reasonable time. Consequently they are 
glad to get outside help, and many of the Fellahin 


from the hills go to the plains to help in getting in 
the wheat and barley. They generally receive as 
wages a certain quantity of cut corn, each day's 
amount being known as Kirwek. They beat out 
the grain, bringing it home at the end of the 
harvest, when it forms a welcome addition to the 
year's provision. 

People will also not unfrequently help friends 
and neighbours to get in their harvest. Especially 
is this the case if one have finished before another, 
or if anything delays the threshing. Sometimes a 
dozen or more men and women may thus be seen 
in line reaping, and it is astonishing to note the 
rate at which they will clear the ground. 

The very poor, who have no crops of their own, 
glean by the wayside and in the fields, and even 
sometimes, by permission of the owner, as Ruth 
did, among the sheaves (Ruth ii. 7, 15-17). When 
they have gleaned a quantity, they take it to some 
flat spot conveniently near and beat out the grain 
(Ruth ii. 17). The straw being of no use to them, 
they leave it there, and in going about the country 
at this season one often comes upon little heaps of 
straw by the wayside thus left there by the gleaners. 

As the corn is brought in from the field it is 
piled up on the threshing-floors. These are open 
level spaces, in or around the villages as a rule, the 
floor being preferably rock, or, failing that, hard 
flat ground, and freely exposed to the wind. Here 
the corn is stacked up in great piles preparatory 
to threshing, and here the proprietor spreads his 
mattress at night, sleeping on the heap of straw or 


beside the winnowed grain, to guard it against loss 
by thieves or fire. When all the crop has been 
thus brought in it is measured, to estimate the 
amount each farmer has to pay towards the total 
sum at which the village tithes are assessed, and no 
one is allowed to begin threshing till this is settled. 

Some hill villages have land both in the hills and 
in the plains, the latter being often at a great 
distance from their homes. Where this is the case 
during the harvest in the plains (which, as already 
mentioned, is much earlier than that in the hills, 
the difference being from a month to six weeks, 
according to the greater or less difference in alti- 
tude), the greater part of the population of the 
village goes down to the low ground for the harvest 
and threshing, locking up their houses, and leaving 
only a few people to look after the place. When 
the harvest in the plain is secured, or that in the 
high ground is ripe, they return to their homes. 

When all is ready for the threshing, and the 
requisite permission has been given, a mass of corn 
is piled up in a circular heap in the centre of the 
floor. This heap, called in some places 'Aram, is 
from 20 to 30 feet in diameter, and about 3 feet 
deep. Several head of cattle, with perhaps one or 
two donkeys, fastened together by their headstalls, 
are driven round and round on this pile till the 
grain is fully separated from the straw and the 
latter is broken up. When the string of animals 
has been going round and round in one direction 
for about ten minutes, it is stopped and made to 
face about, the animal on the outside now taking the 


inside, and proceeding in the reverse direction for 
another ten minutes, when a change is made back to 
the original order and direction. This is continually 
repeated as long as the animals remain at work. 
As this treading process goes on, the separated 
grain, being the heavier part, falls to the bottom, 
the straw which remains at the top becoming 
gradually broken up and bruised, till it somewhat 
resembles the chaff used for feeding horses and 
other animals in England. The whole heap is 
turned over now and then, and in from a day and a 
half to two days the process is complete. 

For this work the oxen are generally shod with 
iron, and, just before the threshing begins, men 
whose special business this is come round to the 
different villages and shoe the oxen at so much 
a head. As soon as the Fellah judges that 
the straw is sufficiently crushed, he proceeds to 
separate it from the grain. The greater part of 
this straw, lying at the top of this heap, is easily 
removed by hand ; but much still remains mixed 
with the grain, and in order to separate this, as 
soon as the breeze, which at this time of year 
usually blows from noon onwards, gets up, he 
takes a wooden fork (Mithrd) having five flat 
prongs, and with it throws up the mixture of grain 
and straw several feet into the air. The corn falls 
back nearly on the same spot, but the straw is 
carried a longer or shorter distance according to 
the strength of the breeze (Ps. i. 4 ; Isa. xvii. 13). 

This straw is divided into two parts ; the finer 
and softer parts ( 7V/;;/) are used as fodder for horses 



and cattle. This Tibn is a very important product 
of the crop, as it takes the place of hay, which is 
unknown in Palestine, for feeding horses, etc. The 
length of the stalk of the corn depends largely on 
the amount of rain which has fallen during the 
growth of the plant. Cceteris paribus, the stalk is 
always shorter than in England ; and in years of 
little rainfall the yield of Tibn is consequently very 
deficient, and the cattle suffer considerably as a 
result. Tibn from barley is the best for fodder, 
that from whe°+ being harsher and less nourishing. 
The coarsest part, consisting of the joints, lower 
parts of the stems and roots, called Kashu, is used 
by the Fellahin for heating their ovens, and about 
Gaza the potters buy it to burn in the kilns. 

The method of treading out the corn just 
described is that most commonly adopted, but in 
many places, instead of doing this by the feet of 
cattle, an instrument called N&terqj is employed for 
the purpose. This consists of a large thick plank 
of wood, turned up in front, and hewn out of a 
solid piece of timber. A number of holes are 
drilled in the under side, and into these are fixed 
pointed pieces of basalt or flint, projecting half or 
three-quarters of an inch (Isa. xli. 15). The corn 
is put in a heap, as described above, and this board, 
drawn by a pair of oxen or a single horse or mule, 
is driven round and round on it, the driver standing 
on it to give it additional weight, and so make it 
more effective. The corn is separated and the 
straw cut up rather more quickly by this method 
than by the other, but I do not think that the 


resultant straw for fodder, the Tibn, is of so good a 

The grain, after being separated from the straw 
and chaff, is cleaned from earth, etc., by sifting in 
a sieve, and then piled up in a heap on the floor. 
This heap is known as Salibeh, from the word for a 
cross, as the Christians, and many Moslems also. 
make the mark of a cross on it with the handle of 
the winnowing fork, for good luck, sticking the 
fork afterwards in the middle of the heap, prongs 
upwards. The grain is then stored away in the 
corn-bins in the houses or in sacks ; the Tibn also 
is stored for future use. 

In the hill districts, in a few villages the cattle 
treading out the corn are muzzled, though in most 
places this is not the case, and they are allowed, 
as they tramp their weary round, to eat as much as 
they please (Deut. xxv. 4 ; 1 Cor. ix. 9). The 
muzzle where used is of two kinds, the simpler 
being a ring made of a twig of mulberry or willow 
placed round the mouth of the animal, and kept in 
its place by two strings, one on each side, fastened 
to its horns ; the other kind consists of a sort of 
wicker basket covering the mouth and nose, and 
secured in the same way as the other to the horns. 

During the time that the corn is being trodden 
out by the cattle they require much water, as they 
are working hard for many hours in the hot sun ; 
and in some places two or three men are specially 
hired for the purpose of drawing water for the 
oxen and asses to drink, receiving as wages a certain 
quantity of corn per head. 



Before storing the corn it is measured, which is 
done in the following manner : The man who does 
it squats down on the ground beside the heap of corn, 
with the measure between his legs ; then, filling the 
measure about three-quarters full, he gives it a 
vigorous shake with a rotatory motion, making the 
grain settle closely down ; next, filling it to the top. 
he gives it another shake, and then proceeds to 
press the corn down with both hands, using all his 
strength in doing so. This done, he piles up a 
conical mound of wheat or barley, gently patting 
it the while to press it together, and from time to 
time making a small hollow at the top, into which 
he pours the corn till it can literally not hold a 
grain more. This is the way corn is always 
measured, and to give less than this would not 
be good or full measure ; it is to this universal 
custom that our Lord's words (St. Luke vi. 38) 
refer. To measure thus is called 'Arram, one of 
their common proverbs being suggested by it — 
' 'Arrim li wa uarrim lak ' (Give me full measure, 
and I will give you full measure). 

In counting the measures, the man who is doing 
it continues calling out the number of the previous 
one while filling the next. Many Mohammedans, 
when measuring, say for the first one, ' God is One/ 
and for the next, ' He has no second,' then simply 
' Three,' ' Four,' and so on. There are several unlucky 
numbers, the first being five, and therefore, instead 
of saying the number, they often say ' Your hand,' 
five being the number of the fingers ; seven is 
another unlucky number, strange to say, and is 


passed over in silence, or the word ' A blessing ' is 
used instead ; at nine Moslems often say, ' Pray in 
the name of Mohammed '; eleven also is not un- 
frequently omitted, the measurer saying, ' There are 
ten,' and then passing on to twelve. 

The Kal, or standard measure of corn, varies 
greatly in different parts of the country. In some 
places the Sda is the unit, in others the Midd. 
Again, even where the same name is given to the 
measure in different places, the capacity is not the 
same : thus, the Jerusalem Sda is not the same as 
the Nablus one ; while in some places there are 
two measures of the same name, being distinguished 
as ' the measure ' and ' the large measure.' 

When the Fellahin take their grain to town to 
sell it, a professional measurer is sometimes called 
in, who receives (in Jerusalem) half a piastre — about 
one penny — for each Sda. There is a Government 
standard measure, but in the villages, especially in 
the more remote districts, the people do not trouble 
themselves about such things. On one occasion, 
when travelling east of the Jordan, I saw a man 
riding along with a corn-measure hung from his 
saddle-bow, and on being asked why he carried it 
with him, his reply was that some months before 
he had purchased corn from two men in a village 
near, the terms being that at harvest he was to 
repay a certain number of measures of grain, the 
men stipulating that the same measuring vessel 
should be used as on the former occasion, and he 
was now on his way to pay his debt. 

The principal crops are those already mentioned 


— viz., wheat and barley — but there are many 
others beside them. Lentils and a species of vetch, 
the seeds of which are used for feeding cattle, are 
widely grown, and are the earliest of all crops. 
Two other important crops are millet — the white 
variety, which is very largely grown in the maritime 
plain. Jordan Valley, and other parts where the soil 
is deep enough and sufficiently rich — and sesame 
(Sesamum orientale). This latter, which is familiar 
enough by name to readers of the ' Arabian Nights,' 
is not, as frequently supposed, a grain, but the seed 
of a slender, branched herbaceous plant, 18 inches to 
2 feet in height, with pale pink bell-shaped flowers, 
a little like those of our common foxglove, which 
are succeeded by long, narrow pods containing a 
number of brown seeds. When fully ripe these 
pods open at a mere touch, so that the Fellahin 
cut the sesame before it is quite ripe, stacking it 
usually on the roofs of the houses till fit for thresh- 
ing, when the seeds are beaten out with a stick. 
These seeds contain a large quantity of oil, which 
is used in cooking as a substitute for olive-oil and 
animal fats ; the residue after the oil is expressed is 
used for feeding goats and sheep, which devour it 
greedily. The entire seeds are used in some sweet- 
meats, and are scattered on cakes. Both millet 
and sesame are sown in the late spring, and are 
called ' summer crops.' 

In the plains large quantities of water-melons are 
grown, especially in the sandy soil about Ramleh 
and Lydd, and are sent all over the country. As 
the melons begin to ripen, little booths, consisting 


of four upright poles, with a light roof as a shelter 
from the sun, are 'erected in each patch, and here 
a keeper or watchman lives for weeks guarding the 

Tobacco is also cultivated to a considerable ex- 
tent, but, as it is a Government monopoly, managed 
by a syndicate, it can only be grown by permission 
of the authorities, who, on the application of the 
villagers of any place, allow a certain area to be 
planted, buying the crop when ripe. It is very 
remunerative, and so various attempts, and often 
successful ones, are made to outwit the authorities, 
and to grow much larger quantities than those 

Not long ago information was sent to the local 
representatives of this syndicate in a certain district, 
about the time that the plants were ripe, that a 
village which had obtained a concession for growing 
tobacco had a much larger area sown with it than 
was allowed by the permit. Shortly after this an 
official of the syndicate, accompanied by several 
mounted gens cFarmes, arrived one evening at the 
village. The elders of the place, who knew very 
well why they had come, received them most 
cordially ; they were conducted to the guest-house, 
and after a while an excellent meal was put before 
them. Supper over, their hosts entertained them 
with interesting conversation, and after a time they 
retired to rest well pleased with their reception. 
When the visitors were safely asleep, the entire 
population of the village turned out, and long ere 
dawn the whole of the extra crop of tobacco had 


been harvested in excellent condition, and not a 
trace left on the plots where it had been sown, to 
show that there had been tobacco there within 
the memory of man. Next morning the official 
politely intimated to the sheikh the object of his 
visit, and was assured with equal courtesy that 
every facility would be given him to inspect the 
crop. This he proceeded to do, when it was 
found that the precise area mentioned in the 
official permission was planted, neither more nor 
less. The man returned home, and no doubt 
reported to his chief that the people of this 
village were a most gentlemanly set of men, and 
that the report about the extra tobacco crop was 
a malicious invention. 

They do not, however, always get the best of 
such attempts. I was once staying for a couple 
of days at a Moslem village whose inhabitants 
had been refused permission to grow tobacco 
that year. A rumour, however, had reached the 
authorities that, notwithstanding this refusal, the 
people were growing it as usual, and a man was 
sent to investigate. A hint that he was coming- 
had been conveyed to the villagers, and when he 
appeared on the scene not a trace of a tobacco- 
plant was visible in the little patches of land in 
and around the village where it is usually grown. 
The official, his wits quickened by experience, 
suspected certain plots whose surface was some- 
what uneven, though no one not trained to the 
work would have thought this unevenness more 
than natural. Sending for a hoe, he quickly laid 


bare row after row of thriving tobacco-plants, so 
artfully and carefully covered over with earth as 
completely to conceal, and yet leave uninjured, the 
precious crop. A few minutes' vigorous work with 
his hoe, however, put an end for that year to the 
villagers' hopes of a tobacco harvest. 

The people of some of the villages near the 
Ghor are often partners with the Bedouin there. 
The latter have much irrigated land, more than 
they need to supply their wants, and being more 
indolent than the Fellahin, they get them to 
assist in the cultivation of their land, the Fellahin 
taking their own cattle and ploughs, and receiving 
one-fourth of the produce as payment. From one 
village north of Jerusalem a number of people go 
every year to the Belka, to assist the people of 
Madeba in ploughing, as the lands of that village 
are so extensive that they have not men or cattle 
enough of their own to get the work done in the 
comparatively short season. In return for this 
help they receive one-fifth of the produce, the 
owners of the land bearing all the expenses and 
finding the seed. 

In the case of friendly help from neighbours, the 
Fellah, on the conclusion of the threshing, makes 
a feast to which he invites all who have given him 
any assistance in getting in his crops ; this feast is 
called Juralt. 

In addition to the crops already mentioned, peas 
and beans of various kinds, onions, garlic, tomatoes, 
carrots, turnips, beetroot, maize, cucumbers, sweet- 
melons, gourds, egg-plant, cauliflowers, cabbages, 


etc., are grown. In fields of cucumber and other 
vegetables, the booths already mentioned under 
the account of the melon-fields are often to be 
found. These booths or sheds are frequently 
referred to in the Old Testament (Job xxvii. 18, 
xxiv. 20; Lam. ii. 6; Jonah iv. 5), and are very 
common now. They vary greatly in size and 
durability. Some are of the flimsiest description, 
and can be put up and taken down in a few 
minutes, which is doubtless the point of the 
allusion in Job xxvii. 18. They consist of a few 
leafy boughs, supported on four sticks, as a slight 
shelter from the sun. Some are much more sub- 
stantial and roomy. Indeed it is not uncommon 
for a whole family to live in one of these booths, 
in their vineyards, throughout the summer, es- 
pecially where the vineyard is at a great distance 
from the village, and where the grapes are to be 
chiefly made into raisins. Occasionally a broad- 
leaved gourd is trained over the booth to give 
additional shade (Jonah iv. 6). 

In such a dry climate as Palestine, every spring, 
however small, is utilized to the utmost for irri- 
gating gardens of fruit-trees and vegetables, and 
water rights are therefore very valuable. As the 
springs for the most part come out on the sides 
of the valleys, it is easy to water a series of 
terraces, at different levels, from the same source, 
the little rivulet sometimes reaching a long 
distance down the valley before it is finally ab- 
sorbed. At times the traveller will come suddenly 
on a deep glen whose brilliant green gardens and 


fruit-laden trees form a striking contrast to the bare 
hillsides around. Descending into the valley, he 
will find issuing from a mass of fallen rocks, gray 
with the storms of centuries, a little thread of 
water, clear and cool, which runs into a large 
open cistern hewn in the solid rock, or built 
on the side of a natural terrace, and carefully 
cemented all round the inside. Here, from the 
neighbouring village, come at morning and even- 
ing troops of laughing girls or careworn women, 
with their pitchers on their heads, to draw water. 
Here, too, in the heat of the day, come the 
shepherds with their thirsty flocks, the goats and 
sheep patiently standing waiting their turn to 
come, at the shepherd's bidding, and slake their 
thirst, or lying quietly chewing the cud in the 
shade of the overhanging rocks or under the 
shadow of a leafy tree. In the larger cisterns 
the boys of the hamlet at evening dive and swim, 
shouting and splashing and enjoying the fun like 
any English lads. The cistern has a hole in the 
outer wall, close to the bottom, for the purpose 
of drawing off the water when required. From 
here the little stream flows by a series of channels 
into the level terraces of garden ground, these 
terraces being subdivided by little furrows into 
rectangular plots at a slightly lower level than 
that of the bed of the furrow, so that, when a 
breach is made in the little low bank of the 
latter, the water flows into the depressed area till 
it is full, when the gardener with his foot or hoe 
scrapes the earth into the breach, and the tiny 
rivulet flows on to another plot. 


It was these regular plots of garden ground, 
with their intersecting water-channels, which the 
ordered fifties and hundreds, seated on the green 
grass at the miraculous feeding of the five 
thousand, suggested to the mind of St. Mark, 
and which the 7rpo<Tiat irpaauu (chap. vi. 39) so 
graphically describes. The gay appearance of the 
multitudes recalling (as some writers have thought) 
the bright flower-beds of a garden is an idea which 
would never occur to an Oriental, as in the East 
flowers are not thus grown. This method of irri- 
gating is the watering with the foot (Deut. xi. 10), 
so characteristic of the husbandry of Egypt, though 
not by any means confined to that land. 

In the maritime plain, especially in the orange- 
gardens in the neighbourhood of Jaffa, irrigation 
is carried on from large wells, 60 to 100 feet in 
depth, from which water is pumped by means of 
an endless chain of earthenware jars or wooden 
buckets, passing over a wooden wheel, and dipping 
into the water at the bottom. This wheel is on 
a horizontal shaft which carries a second and larger 
wheel, and rests on masonry pillars 10 and 12 feet 
high. This second wheel really consists of two, 
side by side, about a foot apart, and connected at 
their rims by a large number of bars of wood 
driven through both at short intervals, thus form- 
ing rude cogs. Into these work a number of pegs 
fixed in the rim of another smaller wheel which 
is fastened to a vertical shaft, and revolves hori- 
zontally just below the larger one, being turned by 
a horse, mule, or camel. The buckets or jars, as 


they turn over, discharge their contents into a 
large cistern, the bottom of which is at a somewhat 
higher level than the surface of the ground, and 
from which a number of cemented conduits or 
channels conduct the water to every part of the 
garden. The whole apparatus is clumsy in the 
extreme, and there is, needless to say, great waste 
of power, but the creaking, groaning Sakiyeh is a 
great feature of the level plains of Palestine. 

Yet another means of irrigation from shallow 
wells, pools, and rivers, is the Shaduf, a long rod 
swinging between two uprights by means of an 
iron bar, which passes through a hole in it about 
a third of its length from the bottom, to which 
a heavy stone is attached in order to balance the 
weight of the water in the bucket, which is fastened 
by a rope to the upper end. This Shaduf, which 
is so characteristic of Egypt, is but rarely seen in 

The lack of water is, perhaps, the greatest physical 
defect of the Holy Land at the present time, and 
this has been greatly aggravated by the cutting 
down of the forest trees. Indeed, it may be said 
that one of the greatest needs of the land at the 
present time, from the point of view of the agri- 
culturist, is trees, as its reafforestation would largely 
increase the volume of the springs, enabling much 
more ground to be irrigated, and so rendering the 
people less dependent on the immediate amount of 
rain for their crops. 

At the time of the conquest of Canaan under 
Joshua, large tracts of country were covered with 


dense forest (Josh. xvii. 15, 18), and though, no 
doubt, much of this was cleared by the Israelites, 
yet a considerable area at subsequent periods seems 
to have reverted to forest. Even now, here and 
there, in remote valleys and glens, one comes upon 
patches of woodland which look like relics of former 
forests, and in certain districts such as Carmel, the 
Jebel Ajlun (Gilead), Tabor, and some of the valleys 
to the north-west, west, and south-west of Hebron, 
considerable areas are yet covered with scrub of oak, 
terebinth, oleaster, arbutus, locust-tree, etc. This 
scrub, if protected, would soon develop into fine 
timber trees, but charcoal-burners, lime-burners, and 
others, are allowed to cut it in the most reckless 
fashion, without let or hindrance. 

The goats and sheep which are taken to these 
tracts to graze are also responsible for much damage, 
more especially the goats, as they are fond of 
browsing on the young shoots of the shrubs. Bush 
fires do a great deal of harm. The charcoal-burners, 
when cutting the thicker branches, trim off the 
smaller twigs on the spot, to save trouble ; these 
drop among the shrubs and soon wither, and 
become very dry ; a chance light sets the whole in 
a blaze, and acres at a time are thus destroyed. 

On Carmel and in the oak-woods in the hill 
country east of the Jordan, the same wanton destruc- 
tion of trees is caused by the custom, mentioned 
elsewhere, of the shepherds cutting down branches 
from the trees for their flocks. The branches lie 
where they fall, consequently in a few years a tree 
will be surrounded by a pile of brushwood as dry 


as tinder, and when a light is applied it burns like 
gunpowder ; I have seen many trees, which took 
centuries to reach their present size, killed in an hour 
in this reckless fashion. 

But what leads to even more regular and syste- 
matic destruction of the small amount of remaining 
forest trees than these causes is the increasing 
demand for firewood. As the European popula- 
tion grows, and as the natives adopt more widely 
Western habits and luxuries, there is a largerdemand 
every year for fuel ; and as the supply grows less, 
not only are the trees cut down, but the very roots 
are grubbed up, so that, if the present system is 
allowed to continue, the little wood that is left will 
soon have entirely disappeared. The steam flour- 
mills are the greatest offenders in the matter, as 
one such mill will, in the course of a year, consume 
more than hundreds of houses. Many olive-trees, 
too, are felled every year for the same purpose. 
The poorer peasants have often nothing else sale- 
able ; money they must have to meet the Govern- 
ment demands, and, suicidal though the policy be, 
as they themselves will often admit, yet, as they 
truly say : • What can we do ? We must have 
money to pay the Government, and we have nothing 
else to sell ?' 

Next to drought, the Fellahin have most to fear 
from locusts. These pests appear from time to 
time, and occasionally work terrible havoc, utterly 
destroying the crops, devouring the leaves of the 
trees, and even eating the bark of the twigs and 
smaller branches. The most fertile districts when 


invaded by a swarm are left as bare as the desert. 
It is many years since a really bad visitation of 
locusts occurred in Palestine, and then they came 
two years in succession, ravaging the country from 
end to end. The Fellahin were then much better 
off than they are now, and the supplies of corn, 
dried figs, etc., were sufficient to carry them through 
this period without much suffering ; but were such 
a calamity to befall the country now, it M'ould 
mean almost certain starvation to the larger number 
of them. The year after the locusts the land 
brought forth in extraordinary abundance, and men 
say that they never saw such magnificent crops as 
those of that year. 

But though it is long since the whole country has 
suffered from them, local visitations are by no means 
uncommon, and do not always injure the crops. 
I remember one such swarm in the Belka in the 
month of July. The harvest had long been reaped, 
and as there were no vineyards or oliveyards in 
that part of the country, and the dry straw on the 
threshing-floors was too hard for them to eat, they 
could do no harm. This species was a small one 
and covered the ground in all directions, rising up 
in clouds under one's horse's feet, while the effect 
of the sun on their light gauzy wings, as they were 
borne along by the breeze, was that of a fall of 
living snow. 

But it is in the larval and not in the adult stage 
that most damage is done by this scourge, and what 
the Fellahin specially dread is the arrival of a swarm 
in the spring-time, while the ground is soft, so that 
in it their eggs are laid, to emerge a year later in 


a countless host of wingless larva?, each one of 
which devours thrice its own weight of food in 
twenty-four hours. The extraordinary fecundity 
of this insect is described in a curious Arabic 
proverb which runs, ' The locust laid a hundred 
eggs, and remarked, " What a very small family !" ' 
When, however, the soil is hard, the eggs remain 
on the surface and are devoured by birds, or are 
swept away by the heavy autumnal rains. They 
are then also easily collected by hand, and during 
a recent invasion of locusts, east of the Jordan, the 
local authorities ordered each person in the district 
to bring in a certain weight of the eggs, which 
were then destroyed. The locust has natural 
enemies also, which destroy vast quantities. A 
few years ago, crossing the Plain of Jezreel, I saw 
millions of locusts among the millet (which was 
just in ear), and scattered over the plain was an 
army of storks, eagerly devouring them. Coming 
back a few days later, over the same line of country, 
not a locust or a stork was to be seen. 

The local Government usually bestirs itself if 
there be any real threatening of this plague. A 
few years ago a large swarm appeared near Jericho, 
and all the available soldiers, with large quantities 
of petroleum, were sent from Jerusalem to destroy 
them, and numbers of men and boys were requisi- 
tioned from every village in the district to aid in 
the work of destruction, with the result that, assisted 
by a flock of storks which followed the swarm, the 
locusts were practically annihilated and the danger 



agriculture (continued) 

Palestine is a country specially suited to the 
cultivation of fruit. Of fruit-bearing trees the olive 
is facile prinveps in value and importance. Indeed, 
the olive crop is, at least at the present day, of 
more real importance than either of the grain 
crops, wheat and barley. It is a highly remunera- 
tive one, and on it the Fellahin largely depend to 
get the money for the payment of their taxes, and 
other expenses for which actual cash is required, 
and so a failure of the olive crop is a more serious 
matter than a failure of the harvest. 

The olive abounds in Palestine to-day, as it has 
done, in all probability, from the very earliest days, 
and forms one of the characteristic features of its 
scenery ; and though to a Western eye there is a 
stiffness and monotony about a grove of olive-trees, 
yet their gnarled trunks and silvery-gray foliage, 
contrasted with the rich brownish-red of the soil, 
have a peculiar charm of their own. It has been 
cultivated in remote ages ; the Israelites were 
familiar with olive-oil before they had settled in the 
land of Canaan (cf. Exod. xxvii. 20, xxx. 24, etc.), 



and both the tree and oil are frequently mentioned 
in the Old Testament. 

It is propagated both by seed and cuttings, but 
most commonly by the latter method. The olive 
has the property of sending up shoots from its 
roots at a short distance from the trunk, these 
shoots developing in time into young trees. One 
or more of them may be seen growing near most 
old olives, and when the Fellahin wish for young 
trees they dig up these shoots, detaching a certain 
amount of root with them, and plant them out 
wherever the new tree is desired. This should be 
done in the autumn after the first rains have fallen ; 
and where a due amount of the root has been 
detached with it, and a sufficient amount of rain or 
water is obtained for the first six months, the young 
tree almost invariably lives and takes root, and in a 
few years becomes a vigorous fruit-bearing tree. 

In some cases two or more of these shoots may 
be found growing round one tree ; indeed, I have 
seen as many as five or six of the scions springing 
from the roots of one old olive, and this is un- 
doubtedly the figure in Ps. cxxviii. 3, the sons and 
daughters growing up around the father being 
likened to these young olive-trees springing up 
round the parent stem, to be in their turn trans- 
planted, and to become the centres of other groups 
of trees. I have heard a statement made by a 
resident in the East, that the spreading base of the 
olive-tree, where it joins the ground, is called the 
• table ' of the olive, and that this suggested the 
figure to the Psalmist. I have never myself been 



able to find such a use of the word, or to meet 
with any native who had heard of it ; still, it is 
quite possible that such an expression is current in 
certain localities, as many words and phrases are 
confined to very limited areas, and it is never safe 
to conclude, from one's knowledge of even a wide 
extent of country, that words and expressions not 
known there are universally unknown. 

All olive-trees, whether grown from seeds or 
shoots, even if taken from good trees, must be 
grafted, or the produce is of no value. To graft a 
young tree, a vigorous branch is selected, and near 
the base, where it joins the main trunk, a longi- 
tudinal incision is made through the bark, which is 
carefully raised on either side of the cut, without, 
however, detaching the bark from the tree. A 
graft is prepared by taking a healthy twig growing 
out of a similar branch on a good tree, and cutting 
out this twig with a rectangular piece of the bark 
attached to it, about 2 inches square, the twig 
being in the centre. This is then inserted in the 
incision made in the wild tree, and under the raised 
bark, which is then bound tightly down on the 
graft. The whole is then left for a year or so, 
when, if the graft has taken proper hold, the rest 
of the bough immediately beyond it is sawn ofT, in 
order that all the nourishment may go into the 
twig which has been grafted on. 

The olive blossoms in the late spring, and the 
fruit takes about six months to mature. The 
flower is very small and cream-coloured, and grows 
thickly for two or three inches along all the outer 

* SHIROCCO ' 229 

twigs, so that a tree in full blossom is a beautiful 
mass of creamy colour. But a small proportion of 
the flowers ' set ' or ' knot,' to translate literally the 
Arabic term ; but even so the olive is very prolific, 
and the weight of fruit which a well-grown tree 
will produce, under favourable circumstances, is 
enormous. The crop, however, runs a good many 
risks ; heavy rain at the time of blossoming will 
often knock off the blossom, or a spell of very hot 
weather will dry it up and make it fall without 
setting. Should neither of these misfortunes befall 
it, an insufficient rainfall in the previous winter will 
cause the fruit to be small and poor ; or should 
there be much or strong SJiirocco in the autumn, 
when the olives are approaching maturity, it will 
shrivel them up and cause them to drop off. This 
'shirocco' is a scorching east wind, the word 
1 shirocco ' being a corruption of the Arabic word 
shirkiyeh, the feminine form of the word for east 
(the noun ' wind ' being feminine in that language). 
It is also called occasionally Si mum, or ' poisonous.' 
Coming across the Great Syrian Desert, it is 
intensely dry, and, except in winter, hot. It 
scorches vegetation, especially in exposed situa- 
tions, often turning the leaves brown, as though 
frost-bitten. Men and animals suffer considerably 
from fatigue and exhaustion while it continues, 
its injurious effects on the animal system being 
attributed to the absence of ozone. 

When the shirocco is very strong, the air is filled 
with fine dust, and the whole atmosphere becomes 
murky and most oppressive. In Egypt it is known 


as Khamsin, or ' fifty,' from its occurring at intervals 
during a period of about fifty days in the spring. 
In Palestine this shirocco blows chiefly in the 
spring and autumn, April and May, and September 
and October, being the months when it is most 
frequent ; and it lasts generally for three, six, or 
nine days at a time, but may continue longer. It 
also blows occasionally in the winter, and is then 
intensely cold. This wind is probably referred to 
several times in the Old Testament, as, e.g., in the 
LXX. version of Isa. xlix. 10 ; Ezek. xvii. 10 ; 
Hos. xiii. 15 ; Jonah iv. 8. 

The olive is a slow-growing tree, and continues 
to bear for centuries. The fruit is gathered in the 
autumn, and it is a busy time when a village has 
many trees or the crop is a large one. In the case 
of one large grove near Sidon, said to be the largest 
in Syria, the people are not allowed to go and 
gather the crop till a time appointed by the local 
authorities, in order to prevent persons stealing sur- 
reptitiously from their neighbour's trees. On the 
day fixed, all the inhabitants of the villages which 
have trees there go down and work continuously 
till the olives are all gathered. The fruit is 
gathered before ripening, as many prefer it for 
eating while still green. For making oil, however, 
the fruit must be left to ripen. 

To prepare the green olives for eating, they are 
usually broken slightly first, and then soaked for a 
while in water to remove some of the bitterness, 
after which they are pickled in salt and water, with 
a little oil, and sometimes a slice or two of lemon. 


The ripe olives are pickled whole without the pre- 
liminary soaking. The best oil of all is obtained 
from fruit which falls of itself from the tree, but 
owing partly to poverty, partly to fear of theft, 
and partly to improvidence, the olives are rarely 
thus left. The gathering is done by beating the 
trees with long rods (Deut. xxiv. 20 ; Isa. xxvii. 12, 
R.V.). In the Gaza district they use a long stick 
with a short one tied to it, like an old-fashioned 
English flail, but elsewhere I have only seen the 
single stick employed. 

The olives having been gathered, those that are 
intended to be used for oil are taken to the press, 
usually without any preparation ; but in the Jebel 
Ajlun (Gilead) they are stewed over the fire in a 
jar, either without water or with only a very small 
amount ; they are then spread on the house-top to 
dry, after which they are ready to be crushed. 
This operation is carried out by means of a huge 
stone, in shape like a large grindstone, the principle 
being that of the familiar mortar-mill used by 
builders, except that in place of the revolving-pan 
there is a solid circular block of stone on which 
the grinding, or rather crushing, stone runs. The 
details of the Badd, as it is called, differ somewhat 
in different parts of the country, but the principle 
is the same. The revolving stone is moved by a 
horse or mule generally, but sometimes by a camel, 
and even by men, by means of a beam of wood 
passing through a hole in the centre of the stone, 
and kept in place by being fastened to a vertical 
beam which turns on a pivot in the lower stone. 


After being crushed, the olives are sometimes 
put in jars, and left for two or three days before 
being pressed, but more commonly this is done at 
once. The black pasty mass is put in baskets 
made of a tough grass which grows by streams, or 
wrapped in hair-cloth similar to that used for the 
tents of the shepherds, and a number of these 
baskets or bags are placed one above another in the 
press, and pressure applied. The native wooden 
machine consists of a huge beam secured at one 
end to a wall by a rude hinge, while a great wooden 
screw passes through the other end for the purpose 
of raising and lowering it. The baskets are piled 
up under the lever on a stone slab, with gutters 
leading into a stone trough ; pressure is applied to 
the further end of the beam, and the oil flows in 
streams into the receptacle made to receive it. 
The method is a very primitive one, and much oil 
is lost by the process. In some cases screw, and 
even hydraulic, presses have been introduced from 
Europe, yielding a much larger percentage of oil. 
When expressed it is put in goatskins or jars, in 
which it is taken into the towns for sale. It is 
largely employed in soap-making as well as in 
cooking. Its price varies greatly from year to 
year, according to the quantity in the market ; 
but taking it altogether, it is by far the most 
valuable product of the country. 
v j/ Vines are cultivated throughout the land, both 
soil and climate being peculiarly suitable for them. 
There are many varieties, which are made use of 
in different ways, some being used only for eating, 

VINES 233 

others for wine-making ; some are employed in 
making a kind of molasses, and others, again, are 
made into raisins. 

The vines need a great deal of attention if they 
are to be really productive. The whole vineyard 
must be ploughed at least once a year, or the vines 
rapidly degenerate, and carefully pruned, or else 
there will be little or no fruit; while during the 
grape season they must be constantly watched to 
prevent the grapes being stolen. 

In some districts there are very large areas under 
vines, as, e.g., about Hebron, Es Salt, and some 
parts of the Lebanon. In the hill country they 
blossom about the end of May or beginning of 
June ; and riding through these districts at that 
time of the year, in the early morning, especially if 
there be a northerly breeze (Cant. iv. 16), the air is 
filled with the delicate and refreshing perfume from 
the long clusters of minute yellow-green flowers. 

In a few places the vines are supported on stakes, 
somewhat as one sees them grown on the con- 
tinent of Europe ; but usually they are allowed to 
trail on the ground, the Fellahin holding that they 
are thus less injured by the hail-storms, which occur 
about the end of the rainy season, and which some- 
times destroy much of the blossom. 

Vineyards are almost invariably enclosed by a 
wall (Jedar) built of rough stone without mortar, 
the materials being found on the spot, as the stone 
used is generally that got out of the soil in pre- 
paring it for the vines. These walls are often in 
a much dilapidated condition. Frequently very 


loosely built, a dog or fox in its efforts to scale 
them will sometimes bring a piece down with a 
run (see Tobiah's taunt, Neb. iv. 3) ; and as they 
are merely built on the surface of the ground, with- 
out foundations, the heavy rains in winter often 
wash the soil from under them, or so soften it that 
it yields to their weight, and much of the wall 

When the grapes begin to enlarge as the vintage 
draws on, the walls are repaired, and very often a 
row of small bushes of the Netsh — a low thorny 
bush, a species of burnet — is laid along the top of 
the walls, projecting a few inches beyond it, and 
kept in place by stones, this being done in order to 
prevent the dogs, foxes, and jackals, all of whom 
are very fond of grapes, from getting over the walls 
into the vineyards, and stealing the fruit. Some- 
times a path runs between the vineyards, having on 
either side one of these rough stone walls. These 
paths are usually very narrow and winding, so that 
it is difficult for two animals to pass each other, 
especially if either of them is laden. It was in 
such a path (which the Arabic version of the Old 
Testament graphically renders ' ditch ') that Balaam 
met the angel of the Lord (Num. xxii. 24). 

Besides these walls, most vineyards have a tower 
(St. Matt. xxi. 33), built, like the walls, of rough 
stone without mortar. In many instances the 
vineyards extend to great distances from the 
villages, occasionally as much as four or five miles, 
so that during the grape harvest the owner takes 
his whole family out there, and lives for several 


months in this tower, guarding the place and drying 
the fruit. 

Some of the towers, especially in the more distant 
and lonely vineyards, are of considerable strength, 
so as to be veritable places of safety. IS T or is this 
uncalled for : thieves are common, and fatal affrays 
with them are by no means unknown. In the 
autumn of 1897 a notorious thief was shot dead in 
a lonely vineyard belonging to the village of Ain 
Arik, by a man whom he attacked in order to rob 
him of his scanty crop. 

Besides human thieves, the foxes, jackals, bears, 
and half-wild village dogs, as already mentioned, 
are fond of grapes, and make raids on the vineyards 
when the fruit is ripe, while other and more formid- 
able wild beasts, such as wolves, have to be guarded 
against. These stronger towers are built in two 
stories of a single room each. The access to the 
upper one is through the lower, this latter being 
entered by a low doorway from the vineyard. 
Some rough steps lead up to the higher chamber, 
and a slab of stone is placed over them at night, 
one of the family spreading his bed on it, so that it 
is impossible for anyone to enter unobserved. The 
walls of this upper room are only about 4 feet high, 
and in lieu of a roof a kind of arbour is formed, 
supported on sticks, to give protection from the 
sun and heavy autumnal dews, a vine being some- 
times trained over to give additional shade. 

Large quantities of grapes are made into raisins 
in certain districts, those of Hebron and Es Salt 
being considered the best. There are several 


qualities, the best being called Sandt esh Sham, or 
' Daughters of Damascus.' That city being famous 
for its gardens, its name has come to be applied in 
Palestine and Syria to the superior sorts of fruit. 

To make the raisins, the grapes, after being 
gathered, are dipped into a lye made from the 
ashes of the evergreen oak or terebinth, both hard 
woods, the lye from the ashes of soft wood not 
being considered so good. The lye is contained in 
a wide shallow vessel, and the grapes, in a wicker 
basket, are plunged into it for a short time ; the 
basket is then withdrawn, and placed over a similar 
but smaller vessel to drain. The grapes, still in 
the bunch, are then spread out on a smooth, open 
piece of ground in the vineyard to dry by the heat 
of the sun. This takes from a fortnight to three 
weeks, according to the weather, much dew or 
mist prolonging the process, and darkening the 
colour of the dried fruit, while an east wind 
(shirocco) expedites it, and the colour is conse- 
quently better. While drying, the grapes emit a 
peculiar and most disagreeable odour. 
^./- Another product of the grapes is Dibs, a kind of 
molasses made from the juice. The following is 
the way in which it is, as a rule, prepared : The 
grapes, which should be very ripe, are sprinkled 
with a little powdered whitish clay called Hoivtcar, 
and piled up either in a sack or loose on the floor 
of a wine-press. The ancient wine-presses, of which 
many are still to be found, are, as far as I know, 
always used for the purpose. These wine-presses 
consist of a shallow rectangular depression, about 


4 feet square, sloping to one corner, and carefully 
cut in a suitable piece of hard rock. From here 
one or more channels run into a smaller and much 
deeper receptacle, close to the larger one, and, 
like it, hollowed out in the living rock. One 
often comes across these old wine-presses on hill- 
sides where now there is no cultivation — relics of 
former fertile vineyards which flourished in the 
days of Palestine's glory, but which have long since 
passed away. Where the grapes are put loose on 
the press, flat stones are placed over them, on which 
a number of men stand till all the juice is squeezed 
out ; but where a sack is used the treaders stand 
directly on the bags. 

The expressed juice is then ladled into large 
caldrons, a fire is lighted beneath, and the juice 
carefully boiled down. The process is not so simple 
as might be thought. The fire needs constant 
attention and regulation, as should the heat be too 
great the Dibs will have a burnt flavour. The syrup 
has also to be skimmed at frequent intervals, as 
the lighter impurities rise to the top. After about 
thirty-six hours' boiling it is reduced to one-third 
of its original bulk, and is sufficiently cooked. It 
must now be left to cool and settle, when the 
powdered clay, already mentioned, carries down all 
the coarser impurities in the form of a dense pre- 
cipitate, from which, when cold, the supernatant 
liquid must be carefully poured off; otherwise it 
will not keep good, but after a while ferments and 
becomes sour. When properly prepared it is thin 
syrup, of a light brown colour and of a sweet, 


pleasant taste, When kept for some time the 
water evaporates still more, and crystallization sets 
in. It is eaten by the natives as it is, or, mixed 
with flour and almonds, is made into various 

Palestine being a Mohammedan country, the 
natives make little or no wine, though considerable 
quantities are manufactured by Europeans, and 
also by the Jews, the latter also distilling a very 
strong spirit from it. 
^C E*&§ are vei T widely grown, and, both fresh and 
dried, form an important article of food. There 
are many varieties, one village alone being said to 
have no less than thirty in its fig-groves. Fig-trees 
and vines are often grown together, as they take 
different substances from the soil, whereas vines 
and olive-trees do not thrive in the same plot, and 
are rarely planted together. This fact illustrates 
one of those minute little touches in the Gospels 
which show the intimate knowledge of the land, 
and the precise accuracy, of the sacred writings. 
1 refer to the words (St. Luke xiii. 6), 'A certain 
man had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard.' 

In the late spring or early summer a peculiar 
kind of fig is found on many trees. It is not a 
different species or variety, as it occurs on all sorts, 
but it is found from two to three months earlier 
than the ordinary crop, and grows underneath the 
leaf, and not in the axil as with the regular figs. 
The Fellahin have a theory that it is a sign of 
weakness in the tree which produces it. It is very 
large and of a very fine flavour, and is much prized 


by the natives, as was the case in Old Testament 
times, as we see from Jer. xxiv. 2 and Hos. ix. 10, 
where it is called the ' first ripe ' fig. There is in 
Arabic a special name for it, ttuff'ur, whereas Tin 
is the word used for the ordinary fruit. 

On account of its being so highly prized, and as 
it is almost the earliest of any fruit, it is allowable 
for anyone to gather it from the trees as they pass. 
It was these Uiiffur, I believe, that our Blessed 
Lord sought for on the barren fig-tree, and not 
the ordinary fruit. This will make the passage 
St. Mark xi. 13 quite clear, especially if, as is not 
unlikely, there were two words for the two kinds 
of fruit in the colloquial Semitic dialect in use in 
Palestine at that time, as in the colloquial Arabic 
of to-day. This passage would thus mean that the 
Saviour came hoping to find Dujf'ur, but when He 
came to the tree found only leaves, for the time of 
Tin was not yet. It is somewhat remarkable, too, 
that while these first ripe figs are in season they are 
a favourite article of food in the early morning 
with the Fellahin, who have no meal corresponding 
to our breakfast. When itinerating among the 
villages at that time of year, I have sometimes had 
occasion to ask persons who have come to me early 
in the day for medicine, ' Have you eaten anything 
this morning V ' Yes, I have eaten two or three 
Dujfui\ has been a far from uncommon answer. 

There are also in some places fig-trees of which 
the fruit is public property. There seems to be 
nothing to mark such trees, but they are well 
known to the people of the neighbouring villages. 


and are called Tin csmbtl — 'fig-trees of the road.' 
The barren fig-tree on Olivet was probably one of 
such trees. Persons will sometimes set apart one 
of their trees for such an object. Olive-trees in 
like manner are occasionally dedicated to churches, 
that the oil from them may be used to keep the 
lamps burning before the icons. 

The figs are dried in large quantities in the fig- 
gardens. An open sunny spot is selected, the 
ground is smoothed, stones and clods of earth 
being removed, and here the figs as they ripen are 
laid, being carefully turned from day to day till 
they are quite dry. While this is going on they 
are collected each evening, and put under shelter 
at night, as the dews which often occur then would 
spoil them if left out of doors. When dry enough 
the fruit is stored in bulk in bins, or strung on thin 
twine in strings of about a hundred. These strings 
are called Kaladeh (pi. Kaltiid). The dried figs are 
known by a special name, Kottain, and form a very 
important article of food, especially of the very poor. 

In the maritime plain, especially in the neigh- 
bourhood of Jaffa, numbers of gardens of oranges 
and lemons are found, and these fruits are being 
exported to Europe, chiefly to England, in ever- 
increasing quantities. The special Jaffa orange is 
a large egg-shaped fruit of pale colour and very 
thick rind. These peculiarities are caused by the 
fact that the Fellahin graft the orange on to lemon 
stocks, as they find by experience that this produces 
a better quality of fruit than that from orange-trees 
grown in the ordinary way. Both fruits require a 


good deal of moisture, and the trees are irrigated 
from the wells already mentioned, each tree being 
watered every second day. 

Date-palms are not uncommon all down the 
coast, and, in fact, grow more or less throughout 
the country, but they only bear fruit of any value in 
the extreme south, in the neighbourhood of Gaza. 

Besides the fruits already mentioned, pome- 
granates of several sorts, quinces, apricots, peaches, 
plums, almonds, walnuts, apples, pears, and other 
kinds of fruit, are found in more or less abundance. 
The greater part is brought into the towns for sale, 
but it is often spoilt by careless handling, and by 
its being frequently gathered too soon, this last 
defect being caused by fear of its being stolen if 
left longer on the trees. 

In the autumn the dews or night-mists are very 
copious, and do much to refresh the burnt-up land. 
Early in the morning the valleys, if in the hill 
country, will often be found to be full of this mist, 
the hill-tops standing like islands out of a sea of 
fleecy white cloud. As the sun gets higher the 
mists (the ' morning cloud ' of Hos. xiii. 3) melt 
away, leaving a cloudless sky. Every leaf and 
twig and blade of grass is gemmed with dewdrops, 
while if camping out one's tent roof is as saturated 
as though there had been a heavy shower of rain. 
This mist or dew is often referred to in the Old 
Testament (Ps. cxxxiii. 3; Hos. xiv. 5, etc.), and 
is of great benefit to the fruit. It fills out the 
olives and matures the grapes, although rain 
would quite spoil the latter. 




In addition to the occupations more immediately- 
connected with peasant life, there are several minor 
industries which, in whole or in part, occupy the 
time and energies of the Fellahin. Foremost 
among them I would put that of the carpenter. 
Most villages have their own carpenter, who makes 
and mends the ploughs and other agricultural 
implements, does whatever wood-work, such as 
doors and windows (wherever there are the latter), 
is required in the houses, and manufactures the 
rough boxes in which the women keep their 
clothes. His tools are of the most primitive de- 
scription : a few tiny saws, with the teeth set the 
reverse way to those of our saws, a small plane, 
two or three chisels of various sizes, a drill worked 
by a bow, and a narrow, much-curved adze, in the 
use of which he is as skilful as a shipwright. He 
does not use a carpenter's bench, but squats on the 
ground to work, and, where he has to use both 
hands, holds the thing he is working at with his 

Payment is frequently made in kind, the peasant 



giving the carpenter so many measures of wheat 
per annum, in return for which the other under- 
takes to keep his ploughs, etc., in repair. It is 
rarely a remunerative employment, and to make 
a living the carpenter must either have land of his 
own or must combine some other occupation with 
it. I knew one who was also village schoolmaster, 
and used to make and mend his ploughs, etc., in 
the courtyard of the little village mosque, with 
his scholars around him learning their tasks. 
Those I have known have all been poor, some of 
them very poor, and in the little town of Nazareth 
there would probably have been but scanty work 
for the carpenter, and the Saviour, in all prob- 
ability, must have known at times the pinch of 
real want. 

Lime-burning is another minor industry which 
occupies many of the Fellahin, especially during 
slack periods. The lime which is used in building 
is all produced in the country. As already men- 
tioned, the rock formation of Palestine is almost 
exclusively limestone, which is burnt into lime in 
kilns called Latun or Klbdrah. A circular hole, 
10 to 15 feet in diameter, is dug in some con- 
venient spot, and lined with dry masonry. A 
quantity of stone, preferably of the harder sorts, 
and of suitable sizes, is collected, and is then built 
up over the top of the circular pit in the form of 
a dome, in the following manner : 

Round the edge of the pit is placed a row of large 
stones, partly projecting inwards. On them other 
layers of stones are placed, each successive layer pro- 



jecting rather more than that beneath it, the process 
being continued till the central opening is small 
enough to be closed by two or three long pieces of 
stone. Smaller stones are placed on this pile to a 
considerable height, earth being heaped up all round 
to keep in the hot air. A hollow some 10 feet 
deep is thus left underneath the mass, and into this 
hollow the fuel is fed through a sloping opening. 
Another hole is often made on the side facing the 
prevailing wind, in order to supply the kilns with 
sufficient air. The fuel most commonly used is 
the Netsh, already mentioned, a low thorny shrub 
which groM r s abundantly throughout Palestine. 
This is cut and piled in small heaps to dry some 
time before the lime is burnt, a large stone being 
placed on each little heap to keep it from being 
blown away by the wind. These heaps of thorns 
cut for the lime -kilns form at times quite a 
feature in the landscape, and are no doubt referred 
to in Isa. xxxiii. 12. 

The fire, once lit, is kept going day and night, 
and as these lime-kilns are often out in the open 
country, at a considerable distance from the 
villages, the men who work them sleep out by 
them, the women bringing them food and water 
two or three times a day. Each addition of fuel 
causes a great volume of dense black smoke to 
rise from the kiln, and on a calm day these 
columns of smoke can be seen from very long 
distances. To such kilns, and to these columns 
of vapour, does the sacred historian liken the smoke 
of the burning cities of the plain (Gen. xix. 28). 


To burn the stone thoroughly requires from two 
to seven days, according to the size of the kiln, 
the nature of the fuel, and the regularity with 
which the fire is kept up. The method is a 
very wasteful one, as the fuel used in each kiln 
would be sufficient to burn a much larger amount 
of lime on a continuous system. When the mass 
is sufficiently burnt, the whole is left for two or 
three days to cool, and the lime is then removed 
in sacks. 

Quarrying is largely carried on in the hill 
country, in the neighbourhood of towns. The 
rock found in Palestine is for the most part lime- 
stone of varying hardness. In the mountains it 
is extremely abundant, and it usually occurs on 
or near the surface. The building stone is almost 
entirely got by blasting. A hole is drilled in the 
rock by means of a long iron rod about half an 
inch in diameter, with a chisel-shaped end. The 
quarryman sits down on the rock he wishes to 
bore, and, holding the rod with both hands, brings 
it rapidly down with great force over and over 
again on the same spot, giving it a half-turn at 
each stroke. A hole more or less vertical is thus 
formed, a little larger in diameter than the rod. 
When it is an inch or two in depth, a little water 
is poured in, more being added from time to time. 
This serves both to keep the boring tool cool 
and to form a thick mud of the coarse powder 
chipped off. This mud is removed from time to 
time by means of a long thin rod, having at its 
lower end a small spoon-like projection at right 


angles to its length, this mud being afterwards 
used in the tamping. When the bore has reached 
the required depth it is cleared out, and a few 
strokes of the iron bar having dried it, coarse 
gunpowder is poured in to a depth of several 
inches, and rammed tight. A thin pointed rod 
of iron, with a strong cross-handle, is pushed in 
to the centre of the charge, and the tamping, 
which is made of small pieces of stone mixed 
with the mud already mentioned, is rammed 
tightly in round the rod, which is turned occa- 
sionally as the hole fills up, to prevent its becoming 
jammed. When the tamping reaches the top of 
the hole, this rod is cautiously withdrawn, and 
fine-grained powder is poured down it till it is 
full. When all is ready, the quarrymen retire to 
a distance, leaving only the one who has to fire 
the charge. This he usually does by fastening a 
burning match to the end of a long stick, with 
which he ignites the loose powder about the top 
of the bore. As soon as he sees that this has 
caught, he makes off as fast as his legs will carry 
him to a place of safety. The narrow thread of 
powder burns but slowly, and if properly done 
there is ample time for the firer to take shelter 
before the charge explodes. If near a highroad 
or a place where people are about, before the shot 
is fired they call out loudly : * Gunpowder ! gun- 
powder ! Beware ! beware !' 

The masses of stone thus detached are broken 
up into pieces suitable for the builder by means 
of large hammers, aided where necessary by iron 


wedges. The stone has to be further dressed 
before it can be used by the mason, but this is 
usually done in the building-yard. Sometimes 
the rock is only cracked by the shot, and then 
huge crowbars, of enormous weight, are used to 
detach the loosened masses. 

A good deal of paving stone exists in some 
parts, occurring in layers only a few inches thick ; 
but this is not quarried by blasting, and the softer 
kinds, such as the Nareh used for the domed roofs, 
do not require the use of explosives. 

The method above described is a very wasteful 
one. Probably not more than half the material 
so obtained can be used. This is in great contrast 
to the methods apparently employed in the ancient 
quarries, of which numerous traces remain. There 
the stones seem to have been cut out one by one, 
each being ready squared for the builder as it was 
detached from the bed-rock. This seems to be 
referred to in Isa. li. 1. Indeed, the marks in the 
old quarries are still so sharp that it seems as 
though it would be possible, if one had the stones 
there, to find the exact spot from which each had 
been cut. 

The gunpowder used in quarrying is made in 
the country. Certain families are considered to 
be particularly skilful in its manufacture, and have, 
no doubt, secret processes of their own. All the 
ingredients are found in the land. Sulphur exists 
in considerable quantities in the marl formation of 
the Jordan Valley, and is sold in the market under 
the name of ' camel sulphur ' (to distinguish it from 


the 'pillar sulphur,' as it is called, which is im- 
ported from Europe), the name being derived 
from the fact that it is used for a remedy for the 
skin diseases to which those animals seem to be 
peculiarly liable. Saltpetre is frequently found as 
an efflorescence on the walls of houses, and the 
keenest native sportsman I have ever known, and 
who always makes his own gunpowder, told me 
that it was from this source that he obtained his 
supply of nitre. It is, however, also made arti- 
ficially by getting earth from caves and other 
places where goats are housed, and placing it in 
a porous vessel out of doors, but in a spot sheltered 
from the rain. Water is poured on this earth from 
time to time in small quantities. This percolates 
through into a vessel placed below, and as it 
evaporates leaves behind a mass of crude saltpetre, 
which is purified by recrystallization. Some of 
the women who make this nitre are specially 
clever in its production, and it is remarkable that 
the Fellahin, with absolutely no knowledge of 
chemistry, should have discovered this process, 
which is practically the same as one which was 
(and probably is still) largely used in France for 
the production of this salt. The materials used 
for the manufacture of this native gunpowder are 
probably not very pure, which accounts most likely 
for the odour of the burnt powder, which is villainous 
in the extreme. 

Charcoal is largely used in cooking, and also 
for warmth in winter, throughout the country, 
and in times of bad harvests or scarcity of olive 


crops many Fellahin will take to its production to 
eke out a living. It is made from the evergreen 
oak, the branches being the parts which are mostly 
employed for the purpose. Other trees are some- 
times used, as the terebinth, deciduous oak, and 
even soft woods such as the arbutus, in places 
where the hard woods are becoming exhausted. 

A bough or an entire sapling is trimmed of its 
twigs on the spot, cut into convenient lengths, 
and carried to the charcoal oven, which is merely 
a pit in the ground or a cave ; I have even known 
an ancient rock-cut tomb utilized for the purpose. 
In the case of a cave, the mouth is walled up with 
stones and earth, leaving only a small aperture. 
The pit or cave is filled with the dry wood, and 
fire is applied. Clouds of bluish-white smoke issue 
from the narrow opening at the mouth, and as the 
charge shrinks in volume more wood is fed in. 
When the man in charge considers the whole is 
sufficiently burned, the opening is closed with 
stones and earth, so as to exclude all air, and 
not re-opened till quite cool. The charcoal is then 
carefully removed, and packed in goat's-hair bags 
for conveyance to the towns and villages for sale. 

In valleys where there are powerful perennial 
springs or permanent streams there will usually 
be found several water-mills for grinding corn. 
A winding channel, carried along the side of the 
valley, conducts a stream of water to a point at 
which it is high enough above the floor to give 
the needful pressure. Here the mill is built. It 
consists of a single room, in the floor of which 


the lower millstone is firmly embedded. Under 
the room is a vaulted space in which works the 
wheel or turbine which drives the mill. One of 
the walls of this room is carried up to about twice 
the height of the latter, and is either connected 
with the hillside by one or more arches, or is itself 
built out to the end of the watercourse. A 
channel along the top of this carries the water to 
a vertical shaft or chimney -like opening in the 
thickness of the wall at its outer end. This pipe 
or shaft leads down into the turbine chamber, and 
is called the ' cistern ' (Btr), probably because it is 
cemented, as cisterns are in order to retain the 
water ; it is closed at the bottom, but has a lateral 
opening on a level with the arms of the turbine. 
The column of water is sometimes 20 to 25 
feet in height, so that it issues with tremendous 
force in a horizontal jet, striking the radii of the 
turbine, and thus rotating them. 

The turbine consists of a shaft (Ud) with a 
number of radial arms at the lower end, like the 
spokes of a wheel without a rim, and very wide, 
relatively, to their thickness. The shaft passes 
up through the floor of the mill, and also through 
the lower millstone, and into the upper one, which 
is firmly keyed on to it by means of a cross-piece 
of iron sunk into the stone. About a foot and a 
half above the stones, and fifteen inches apart, are 
two bars of wood securely fastened to the walls of 
the mill. They are called the ' ladder,' and on them 
rests the hopper (Ualu), in shape an inverted trun- 
cated pyramid. Below the mouth of the hopper 

MILLS 251 

is suspended a flat shovel-shaped piece of wood 
called the ' bowl.' It has a raised edge all round 
it except at its apex, and is so hung from the 
ladder that it slopes somewhat towards the narrow 
end, in order to facilitate the flow of the grain to 
the stones. A string passes through it near its 
point, and is for the purpose of regulating the 
amount of grain which passes to the millstones ; 
when it is slackened more runs from the hopper, 
and when it is tightened up the mouth of the 
hopper is closed and the flow of corn ceases. 
A short stick is tied across the 'bowl,' and on 
this rests another, with its lower end on the 
revolving stone, its use being to give a slight 
shaking motion to the ' bowl,' without which the 
grain would not flow from the hopper. Close by 
the stones is the handle by which the miller opens 
or closes the water-passage, thus starting or stop- 
ping the mill. The stones for these mills, like 
those for the hand-mills, are made of the black 
basalt of the Leja. 

A considerable amount of pottery is made in 
various parts of the country. In some villages 
the women make the huge jars which contain 
the supply of water for the household. These 
jars are not formed on the wheel, but are built 
up slowly, piece by piece, by hand, and when 
finished are dried very thoroughly, and then burnt 
by heaping up dried cow-dung around them and 
setting fire to it. The fuel is allowed to burn 
itself out, when the jar will be found to be suffi- 
ciently baked. A great deal of earthenware is 


also made, which is thrown on the wheel with 
great skill. This industry is chiefly carried on 
in Southern Palestine, about Gaza, where there 
are abundant deposits of clay. The raw material 
is dug out by the Fellahin, and accidents from 
the falling in of the earth on them, in the pits, 
are not uncommon. 

When the clay is brought in, it is broken up into 
small pieces, mixed with water, and worked into 
a proper consistency by treading (Isa. xli. 25) 
It is next ' thrown ' on the wheel, as is done 
in England, only that the wheel is turned by the 
potter himself; he does this by means of a disc 
of wood fastened to the lower end of the shaft 
on which the upper wheel is secured, and of 
similar dimensions to it (hence the Hebrew term 
' the two wheels,' Jer. xviii. 3). The various 
articles when finished are left to dry, and then 
burnt in kilns, the fuel used being the coarse 
part of the straw left after the Tibn is separated, 
and which consists of the knots and lowest parts 
of the stalks next the ground. When burnt, the 
jars and other articles are put in network sacks 
made of a coarse tough grass, and sent on camels 
and donkeys to all parts of Palestine. 

On the coast of the Mediterranean, and also on 
the Sea of Galilee, there are a good many men 
who gain their living by fishing. In the former 
a casting-net, the antyifi\r\GTpov of the New Testa- 
ment, is chiefly used. This is a circular net of 
very fine twine, and small in the mesh ; it is 
attached in the centre to a long cord, and round 

1 . 

* -\ 

FISHING 2.3tt 

the circumference is weighted with lumps of lead. 
While riding along the coast one may often see 
a fisherman with clothes tucked tightly up round 
his waist, and one of these nets over his left arm, 
wading thigh-deep in the broken water near the 
beach, and intently watching the shoals of fish as 
they swim about. Stooping and crouching down 
to render himself as inconspicuous as possible, he 
now advances, now retreats, till a shoal is in a 
favourable position, when, with a dexterous twist 
and sudden fling, he sends the net spreading out 
to its widest extent over its prey. Often the cast 
is in vain, or but a single fish is brought to shore, 
but at other times a considerable haul rewards his 

Both on the Mediterranean and on the Sea of 
Galilee seine nets (trayr?^) are used with boats, as 
was done in our Lord's time ; and on the latter sea 
now, as then, the fishing is chiefly by night. When 
being rowed on one occasion across the Sea of 
Galilee, the boatmen apologized for rowing slowly : 
' they had been fishing all night, and were tired,' 
they said. Many of the small fish caught in the 
Sea of Galilee are dried and sent about the country, 
being eaten as a relish (tydpiov, St. John vi. 9) with 

There are a few jewellers among the Fellahin 
who either live in a village or wander about from 
place to place, making the rings, bracelets, chains, 
and other ornaments, of which the peasant women 
are so fond. Silver is the metal chiefly used, and 
that largely mixed witli alloy ; gold is rarely seen. 


The jeweller's apparatus is very primitive. It con- 
sists of a rough pair of scales for weighing the 
metal ; a plain portable hearth of clay, shaped like 
a large centre-dish for fruit, and about 15 inches 
high ; a rude oil-lamp, with a large wick for blow- 
pipe work, a curved metal blowpipe, and one or 
two forceps. With these simple tools they some- 
times turn out very neat work. They seem to 
work entirely by rule of thumb, following tradi- 
tional patterns and devices. 

Among minor industries may be mentioned the 
making of mats. Chairs are unknown, except 
where European ideas and customs have begun to 
take root ; but even the poorest like to have some- 
thing to put on the floor on which to sit, and for 
this purpose straw, or rather rush, mats are common 
everywhere. There are two kinds of these mats : 
the larger and cheaper kind are made in the 
maritime plain, of the dried stems of a species of 
papyrus. This plant grows in considerable quanti- 
ties in the swamps from which the short rivers 
flowing into the Mediterranean take their rise. I 
do not know whether or not it is identical with the 
African papyrus, but it is very like it, except that 
it is smaller. The rushes are tied side by side till 
the mat has reached the desired length, the manu- 
facture being simple in the extreme. They are 
usually about 7 feet wide, by 8 or 9 feet in length. 
A smaller but superior kind of mat is made in 
some of the hill villages about Jerusalem from the 
stems of a species of grass. 

The Fellahin are very skilful in basket-making. 


They use twigs of various shrubs, such as willow, 
mulberry, etc., and the stems of a species of smilax 
and other creepers. Of these, baskets of various 
shapes and sizes are made. One sort, with a handle, 
is called Kcrtidleh, and is much used for carrying 
small quantities of figs, grapes, olives, etc. A 
strong, shallow, handleless basket, about 18 inches 
in diameter, and 4 or 5 inches in depth, is employed 
by the women in carrying grain, vegetables, fowls, 
etc., to market. The latter kind is often covered 
with skin to render it stronger stilL Another sort, 
known as Kuffeh, is made from the flexible stems 
of a short grass, and is largely employed in carrying 
stones for mending the roads, earth for making 
mortar, in gardening operations, and for a variety of 
purposes where an Englishman would use a wheel- 
barrow, the loads in such cases being carried on 
the head by the women, and on the hip by the men. 
A strong double basket, or pannier, for donkeys is 
made from the same material. 

Yet another kind is made from wheat straw. A 
coil of this material, about the thickness of one's 
little finger, is produced by taking a number of 
straws of different lengths, and binding them 
tightly by a straw, flattened and rendered flexible by 
squeezing it with the finger and thumb-nail, spirally 
round the coil. This is wound round and round 
on itself, each coil being sewn to the adjacent ones, 
till a flat, circular sort of tray of the desired 
dimensions is produced. The coils are then con- 
tinued at right angles to the bottom till the sides 
are sufficiently high. These baskets are sometimes. 


ornamented by dyeing the outer wrapping straws, 
and working them in to form patterns. 

Large round trays are made in the same way by 
the women. Some are worked in elaborate patterns, 
while others will have a little round looking-glass 
embedded in the centre. The colours are often 
tastefully blended. They are used for various 
domestic purposes, often serving as dishes to hold 
bread, grapes, figs, etc. 

There is a widespread belief that there are 
treasures buried in the earth all over the country, 
and some peasants make it their regular occupation 
to dig for old graves in the hope of finding these 
treasures. In this way large quantities of antique 
glass, ancient lamps, and other articles, are found, 
and command a ready sale at the hands of the 
dealers in such things in the towns. Immense 
numbers of graves have thus been rifled, especially 
within the last few years. 

Shoemaking is another industry of the larger 
villages. The shoes made by these village cobblers 
are only the rougher, heavier kinds, the soles being 
of camel or buffalo hide, and the uppers of sheep- 
skin, dyed red. Sometimes these shoemakers go 
about from village to village, chiefly repairing the 
shoes of the people. They remain for a few days 
in the place, as long as there is anything for them 
to do, and then move on. 

Some of the men are clever at hunting game. 
Partridges, gazelle, wild-boar, and ibex, are the crea- 
tures they shoot. The former (partridges) abound 
throughout the land, there being several species, in- 


eluding the large, handsome Greek partridge, the 
Dead Sea species, which is peculiar to Palestine, 
and the francolin. For these birds they often use a 
lure, which consists of a piece of calico with various 
devices painted on it, and fastened to two sticks in 
the form of a St. Andrew's cross. There are usually 
two holes in the upper part for the hunter to look 
through, and one in the centre for his gun. They 
use this in rather an unsportsmanlike manner, 
creeping up towards a covey holding this screen 
before them, and when they get near they stop, 
and the partridges, which are bold and inquisitive,* 
when they see this strange-looking object, instead 
of taking flight, gradually come nearer and nearer 
till within range, when the man fires. The wild 
boar is still fairly common in the Jordan Valley and 
the better- wooded districts, and the Fellahin some- 
times organize regular hunts for the purpose of 
killing them, as not only the Christians, but also 
some of the Moslems, eat the flesh. 

The men spin a good deal of coarse thread from 
the wool of their sheep and the hair of the goats. 
A mass of the raw material is wrapped loosely 
round the left hand, and the spindle with which it 

* The Fellahin say that the fox is fully aware of this trait 
in the character of the partridge, and takes advantage of it 
in the following manner: He lies down on a rock in the 
open with limbs stretched out, mouth half open, and saliva 
running from it as though he were dead. When the curious 
birds catch sight of their enemy in this condition, they come 
slowly up to see if he be really dead, and, when near enough, 
with a sudden spring he seizes his victim. 



is spun is attached to it by a piece of the thread. 
The spindle is simply a stick about 9 inches long, 
with two cross-pieces about 1| inches from the 
lower end. It is weighted with a stone or piece of 
potsherd, and is used in the following manner : A 
long thread is drawn out with the fingers of both 
hands, and roughly and loosely twisted. When 
about 3 feet long it is held tightly between the 
thumb and forefinger of the left hand, at the further 
end from the spindle, and a vigorous spin is given to 
the latter by a dexterous turn of the right hand, the 
thread being thus twisted as tightly as desired by its 
rapid revolution. The two or three feet of finished 
thread are then wrapped round the lower end of 
the spindle, looped over the upper end of the shank 
to keep it in place, and the process repeated. It 
is astonishing to see what an amount of coarse 
thread a man can thus spin in a day, and of what 
even thickness he manages to keep it. This thread 
is used for various purposes, such as making ropes, 
haircloth for tents, nose-bags for horses, and for 
weaving the cloaks so much worn in winter. The 
men work very industriously at this during the 
wet days of winter and spring when no field labour 
is possible. The women do a small amount of it, 
but, naturally, have not the same time as the men. 
Haircloth for the tents — or ' houses of hair,' as 
they are called in Arabic — is woven in a good many 
places from the coarse thread just described. This 
haircloth is made of the black goat's hair, no other 
colour, apparently, being permissible, the only 
exception being that sometimes there is a longi- 



'/ ■ '■ ee per, . B. 


tudinal stripe of dark gray. This work is now, I 
believe, invariably done by women ; but the fact 
of this having been St. Paul's trade (Acts xviii. 1-3) 
shows that this was not the case in Apostolic times. 
The process is simple and primitive to the last 
degree. The long threads to form the warp are 
stretched out in some convenient and fairly level 
spot in the village. That which is to form the 
woof, instead of being placed in a shuttle, is wound 
lengthways on a flat piece of wood about 30 inches 
long and 3 inches wide, somewhat resembling a 
gigantic netting-needle. With this in her hand, 
the weaver laboriously threads the woof through 
the warp, and then with an iron hook (Sfa) deftly 
tightens up the thread against the part already 
woven. The threads of the warp are passed through 
a series of loops attached to a piece of wood, and 
suspended so that every other thread is alternately 
raised and lowered, much as in a European loom, 
though the mechanism is of the rudest possible 
description, having to be turned by hand each time 
the shuttle is passed through the warp. It goes 
without saying that the process is very tedious, but, 
owing to the dexterity which the women acquire 
not so much so as might be supposed. A strong, 
rough kind of carpet is woven in the same manner 
in some districts, as well as sacks, bags, and such- 
like articles. 

At one time a great deal of weaving was done 
by the Fellahin, and though goods of European 
manufacture have to some extent crippled this 
industry, yet there are still many looms to be 



found in various parts. Simple though they are, 
the work they turn out is neat and durable. The 
working parts of the loom are on a level with 
the floor, and a hole is dug to accommodate the 
treadles which raise and lower the alternate threads 
of the warp, the weaver sitting on the edge of this 
hole and working the treadles with his feet. The 
thread of the woof is wound on little bobbins, 
made of pieces of hollow reed, inserted in the 
shuttle, which is skilfully and quickly shot through 
by hand. The thread is wound on the bobbins by 
a little piece of apparatus consisting of a rude 
wheel with a cord passing over it to a reel on a 
spindle, on which the little pieces of reed are fixed. 

One of the principal articles produced by these 
native looms is the heavy cloak worn by the 
peasants in winter. The warp of these cloaks is 
white cotton, which is imported from Egypt in the 
form of yarn, but the woof is of wool. In weaving, 
the workman, after shooting the shuttle through 
the threads, catches the woof-thread with his thumb 
about the middle, and draws it up in a semicircle 
before pressing it home. This seems to give greater 
density and closeness to the material. These 
Abas, or cloaks, are woven in broad stripes of 
black and white, are very strong and durable, and 
fairly waterproof. 

Mention may be made, too, of the mother-of- 
pearl work for which Bethlehem is famous, though 
this cannot be called an indigenous industry, having 
been introduced from Egypt two or three centuries 
ago. The shells are brought from the Red Sea. 


To/act page 260. 


The work is all done by hand, and some of the 
specimens are very beautiful. There is a growing 
demand for olive-wood articles, and in a few cases 
some of the Fellahin have begun making various 
objects in the villages, the raw material being 
cheaper there than in towns. They sell them in 
the shops in Jerusalem and elsewhere. 



The roads in Palestine are for the most part rough 

tracks, or else mere paths across the country. In 

the hills they are very stony, and in the plains 

frequently impassable in the winter owing to the 

deep mud. During the Roman occupation of the 

country fine paved roads were made in all directions, 

of which extensive remains still exist both east and 

west of the Jordan, with milestones, the inscriptions 

on them being often still decipherable, recording 

how, under such a Caesar or in such-and-such a 

consulship, the road was made or repaired. These 

Roman highways, however, from having been 

neglected for centuries, are now useless for wheeled 

traffic. The large blocks of stone which once 

formed a smooth, level surface for scores of miles 

are now tilted at every possible angle, the earth 

between has been washed away, and in places 

rough masses of rock protrude from below, or 

the surface is strewn with large loose pebbles, 

so that the line of the track resembles the bed of 

a mountain torrent more nearly than anything 




When, however, a Christian Patriarch or Govern- 
ment official of high rank is about to visit a district, 
or even merely to pass through it, it is customary 
to send word in advance to the various villages 
on the route, that the road may be put in order. 
The stones are cleared out ; the vineyard walls, 
which are built of rough blocks without mortar, 
and are consequently frequently broken down by 
men or animals getting over them, are repaired ; 
ruts are filled up, and the highway made as smooth 
as circumstances will permit. I have on several 
occasions been agreeably surprised, when travelling 
about the country, on coming to some particularly 
bad piece of road, to find the stones gone, the walls 
repaired, and the path in good order. 

As one travels about the country one hears a 
great variety of salutations. Indeed, these saluta- 
tions are so numerous and varied that they form 
quite a study, there being different ones in different 
parts of the country, and special ones on special 
occasions or for the various events of life. When 
two Moslems meet each other, they usually greet 
each other with the words ' Salam alckum ' (Peace 
be upon you) ; to which the proper reply is, ' Wa 
alekum es salam ' (And on you be peace), the 
pronoun being usually in the plural instead of the 
singular, even where only one person is addressed, 
this being considered more polite than the use of 
the singular, the same custom obtaining in writing 
letters. This salutation is not used by Christians 
to one another, nor is it usual for Christians to use 
it to Moslems, nor Moslems to Christians — indeed. 


the more fanatical Moslems would highly resent its 
use by or to Christians. In some districts, how- 
ever, where there is little bigotry on the part of the 
Mohammedans, or where they and the Christian 
villagers are on specially friendly terms, I have 
frequently heard it exchanged between Moslems 
and Nazarenes, as they call us. This used to be 
the custom about Kerak, in Moab ; but when a 
few years ago the Turks took possession of the 
place, which till then had been only nominally 
under their rule, the officials tried to stop it, and a 
public order was issued forbidding the practice, 
on the ground that 'there was no peace between 
Moslems and Christians.' 

When Christians meet, a common salutation is, 
'Allah m'akum' (God be with you), to which those 
thus addressed reply, ' If r Allah yahfathak' (And 
may God preserve thee). In the morning, whether 
in the house or on the road, the usual greeting is, 
' Subahkum bilkher ' (May your morning be good, or 
prosperous), the response to which is the same. 
In many cases they reply to a salutation by one 
similar, but better, rather ; thus, a very common 
one during the day is, ■ Naharak sa'id ' (May thy day 
be fortunate), the answer to which is, ' Naharak 
mbdrak 3 (May thy day be blessed), the latter being 
stronger than the former. These two salutations 
can be used at any time during the day, but in 
the afternoon, especially after about three o'clock, 
it is more usual to say, ' Masikum bilkher ' (May your 
evening be prosperous) ; but in the Lebanon there 
is a curious custom of saying, ■ Lelatak saHd ' 


(May thy night be fortunate) any time from noon 

When meeting a stranger on the way, or when 
one arrives at a village or house, a common saluta- 
tion is,' Marhabali (A welcome), to which the person 
so addressed replies, ' Marhabaten ' (Two welcomes). 
Should the one who gives the first welcome be 
a person much respected, or well known to the 
other, the reply will often be, ' Mit marhabah ' (A 
hundred welcomes). A very characteristic greet- 
ing to a guest is, 'Ahlan wa sahlan ; rendered quite 
literally, this means, 'People and a plain' — i.e., 'You 
are among your own people, and all will be made 
easy for you,' being a wish that you may feel 
quite at home. This last word occurs in another 
greeting : two friends meet on a journey, and on 
parting one will say to the other, especially if the 
latter have a long day's march or a difficult road 
before him, 'Allah yusahhil oleic' (May God make 
it smooth, or level, for you), a peculiarly appro- 
priate farewell in a land like Palestine, where so 
much of it is rough and hilly. The phrase is also 
used metaphorically of any difficult undertaking. 

While on the subject of travelling, a curious 
phrase must be mentioned which people meeting 
on the way use when they wish to ascertain where 
one is going, viz., ' Wen ala bob Allah V or more 
simply, 'Ala bab Allah V (Where — to the gate of 
God ?). The idea of the phrase is said to be that 
the person addressed is thereby implied to be 
bound on some good errand, and therefore not 
ashamed to say whither he is bound, and very 


rarely will a man refuse to give an answer to the 
question thus asked. I think that there is also 
a wish implied, as in so many of their salutations, 
that a blessing may rest on the enterprise, what- 
ever it may be. Similar phrases are also used 
sometimes with the same meaning. I was once 
riding alone in a very out-of-the-way part of the 
country, when I met an old peasant woman. She 
was evidently greatly surprised to see a foreigner 
alone in that out-of-the-way place, and, after gazing 
intently at me for a moment or two, greeted me 
with the words ' Wither with God ?' 

A traveller passing Fellahin ploughing, or en- 
gaged in any other hard labour, greets them with 
the wish, ' Sah badanu ' (May He [God] strengthen 
his body) — that is, that he may be able to do his 
work properly. The one so addressed replies, 
' Badanu ' (His body), simply reciprocating his wish, 
or, on the principle mentioned above, of adding 
to the wish, Badnnu sellnnu (His body, and may 
[God] give him peace, or health). In the Belka 
and other parts east of the Jordan, a common 
greeting by the way is the phrase ' Kowwak ' (pro- 
nounced ' gowwak,' the kaf, as is usual among the 
Bedouin and the Fellahin of Eastern Palestine, 
being sounded as a hard g), viz., ' May God 
strengthen you,' the reply to which is, ' Kowivct ' — 
that is, ' I am strengthened.' A similar salutation 
not uncommonly heard is, ■ El axv'afah ' (Health). 
Among the Fellahin a host who is looking after 
his guests, and going in and out among the people, 
will, every time he comes into the room, repeat 


the ordinary salutation ' Good-day ' or ' Good-even- 
ing,' according to the time. When guests arrive 
at a person's house or the guest-room of a village, 
the people of the place crowd in, usually, to see 
and salute them. When a man enters, he slips 
off his shoes at the door, and walking across the 
room to the principal guest (if there be more than 
one), and taking the latter's right hand between his 
two hands, says, ' Selimat ' (Health, or Peace), and 
then does the same to the other guests in order 
of their rank. Should the guest be a man of 
high position, as a Bishop, Patriarch, or a Sharif 
among the Moslems (i.e., a lineal descendant of 
Mohammed), the other will raise the guest's hand to 
his lips and kiss or attempt to kiss it, the other often 
drawing it back, as though unwilling to receive 
the homage. When the man has thus saluted 
the guests, he seats himself among the people 
present, and when he is fairly settled in his place 
the guests turn towards him and wish him ' Good- 
evening,' or whatever be the suitable salutation, 
the rest of the company following suit, all this 
being repeated with each new arrival. 

An ordinary question is, ' How are you ?' — 
literally, ' How is your state V Among Moslems 
it is not proper to inquire after a man's wife. 
Should he be a person whom one knows well, 
one may say, ■ How is your family ?' or, ' How 
are the people of your house ?' A frequent 
reply to all inquiries like these — or, if a person 
has been ill, to a question as to how his health 
is — is, 'Praise God,' or, '1 thank the Lord.' 


Indeed, it is often very difficult in such circum- 
stances to ascertain the real state of a person's 
health, it being considered unlucky for anyone to say 
that he is worse, even if such be the case. Another 
reply to the formal inquiry, ' How are you ?' is, 
1 Talit nathurakj an answer which contains one 
of those delicate bits of flattery at which Orientals 
are adepts, meaning as it does, ' I am under your 
oversight' (or • care '), implying, ' How can I be 
otherwise than well when you are looking after 
me ?' When one thanks a person for any favour 
or kindness done, he often says, * Istaghfur Allah' 
(I beg pardon of God), as though by being 
thanked he had sinned by receiving or accepting 
what was due to God. 

At the New Year or on occasions of great 
festivals a special greeting is used, viz., ' Kul es 
senneh wet entum salhnin ' (May you be well, or 
in peace, all the year), the reply to which is, ' Wa 
entum salimin (May you, too, be in peace). Another 
greeting at festivals is, ' El 'id mubarak fik ' (May 
the feast be blessed to you), the answer being 
simply, ' Fik ' (And to you). At Easter, moreover, 
the well-known salutations, ' El Masih kam' (Christ 
is risen), ' Hakkan kam ' (He is risen indeed), are 
still used by the members of the Orthodox Greek 

When a person is leaving after a call or visit, he 
says to the host, ' Khatarak' — literally, 'What is thy 
wish ?' — to which the other answers, ( M'a salameh* 
— literally, ' With peace,' meaning, ' My wish is that 
you may return home in peace or safety.' This 

'GO IN PEACE' 269 

expression, ' Go in peace,' is also a polite way of 
getting rid of a beggar or other objectionable 
person, and perhaps the passage 2 Kings v. 19 
ought to be so interpreted, and not, as is generally 
done, be held to mean that the prophet assented 
to Naaman's wish. As a guest rides away from 
the door of a house where he has been calling or 
staying, the host will usually ask him to salute 
So-and-so in the place he is going to, or, if he 
does not know anyone there, he will say ' Sellim * 

In a hot, dry country like Palestine, large 
quantities of water are drunk, and when people 
are gathered together in an evening the water- 
bottle is going round frequently. After drinking, 
a man must say in a low voice, ' Praise be to God,' 
on which those near him say, ' Your health,' to which 
he replies, ' May God give thee health.' It is con- 
sidered a very bad omen if no one says this when 
anyone has drunk. A story is told of a wealthy 
Moslem who, when he went on a pilgrimage to 
Mecca, hired a man on purpose to stand near him 
at meals, etc., and say ' Your health ' after he had 
drunk. For several days the man never said a 
word, and at last his employer asked him why he 
had never said ' Your health,' and the other replied, 
1 Because you never said, " Praise be to God.'" 

When coffee is served to guests or others, the 
person who presents the cup does so with his 
right hand, putting his left on his chest, and say- 
ing, ' Tafaddul? — that is, ' Do me the honour ' of 
taking the coffee — and as he takes it the other 


generally says, ' Isht ' (May you live long), while as 
he returns the cup after having drunk, he says, 
i Daimeh,' which is, literally, 'Always,' being a devout 
wish that the host may always have coffee to give 
to his guests, on which the host, or else the person, 
often a member of the family, who is serving the 
coffee, says, ' Sahatcn ' (Two healths). If, however, 
a death has recently occurred in the house, it is 
not proper to use the expression ' Always ' after 
the coffee, as it might be taken as an evil wish 
that there might always be a death in the family. 

After a death in a house, when entering it, or 
on meeting a person who has recently lost a near 
relation or friend, instead of the ordinary saluta- 
tion, one says, ' Salamat rasak 1 (The health, or peace, 
of thy head), the other responding with • Salamat 
ouladak' (The health of thy children). When a 
person who has been away for a considerable time 
from a village is inquiring about the people there, 
and happens to ask after anyone who is dead, 
instead of saying directly ' So-and-so is dead,' they 
say, l Atdk umrahu'' (He has given you his life [or 
age]), this being equivalent to a wish that God 
may add to the life of the other the years which 
the dead man would have lived had he fulfilled 
the complete term of his existence. I have even 
heard it used hypothetically of a sick person who 
was known to be dying. Thus, once riding home 
to Jerusalem, I overtook a young fellow I knew, 
and stopped to inquire after an old man in his 
village who was dangerously ill. ' Probably he 
has given you his life ' was the reply, meaning, 


of course, that by then he had probably passed 

With the word ' Blessed,' we greet a friend who 
has moved into a new house, or to whom a child 
has been born, or other piece of good fortune 
come ; he replies, ' May you be blessed.' 

If a person is wearing a new garment, or has 
any new thing with him, and another congratulates 
him about it, he will sometimes reply with the 
words, ' Alalhabl idak' (Your hand is on the rope), 
as much as to say, ' It is at your disposal,' and 
should the other reply, ' Hdtt ' (Give), he would be 
obliged to give it him. The precise meaning of 
this curious phrase is very variously explained, 
some explanations of it being very far-fetched. 
The idea is, I believe, really a simple one, and 
taken from that of an animal tethered by a rope, 
one end of which is in the owner's hand, who thus 
can make it go wherever he wishes. 

There is a great deal of etiquette about salu- 
tations, though often it is not observed. Thus, 
a man riding should always first salute a man 
walking ; a man riding a horse must first salute 
one riding a donkey. Moreover, should a man 
riding by on a horse salute another sitting by 
the roadside, the latter must not rise, as he 
otherwise would, to return the salute, lest his 
doing so suddenly should frighten the horse, 
making it rear and throw its rider. Again, 
should a man enter a room where guests are at 
a meal, he must not salute them at once, but 
wait till they have done eating, as Arab rules 


of politeness require a greeting to be instantly- 
returned, and one of them might have his mouth 
full at the moment, and be choked in the attempt 
to reply to the other's greeting. 

Kissing the hand by way of salutation has 
already been mentioned. In many cases this is 
actually done, not only by an inferior to a 
superior, but children to their parents, even when 
the former are grown up. A man who has been 
absent from home for some time will, on entering 
the house, greet his father thus, and it is a beautiful 
sight to see a strong middle-aged man gracefully 
stoop and raise his old white-haired father's hand 
to his lips. A wife will also greet her husband 
in this way if he has been away several days. 
Indeed, in Palestine it would be considered highly 
improper for a man to kiss his wife before others, 
or a brother a sister, as is done in Europe. Among 
the Christians a priest will kiss his Bishop's hand, 
and the laity will kiss the right hand of a priest. 
Often when inquiring after a child the father or 
mother will say, ' He kisses your hand.' 

I have no doubt in my own mind but that it 
was thus that the traitor Judas greeted the Saviour 
in the Garden of Gethsemane (St. Matt. xxvi. 
48, 49). It would be a perfectly natural salutation 
to his Master on the part of a disciple who had 
been some hours absent, and would therefore not 
excite the suspicion of the other apostles, while 
at the same time it would clearly indicate to the 
soldiers the Prophet of Nazareth. On the other 
hand, a kiss on the cheek, as Western pictures of 


our Blessed Lord's betrayal always represent it, 
though used in Palestine, would only be given 
by very dear friends or near relatives after a 
prolonged absence. 

To kiss the feet is a rare, though not unknown, 
greeting, and indicates the lowest depths of humilia- 
tion, the most earnest entreaty, or the deepest 
gratitude. Occasionally persons will actually 
throw themselves on the ground at the feet of 
him whom they thus entreat, but more often they 
will kiss their own fingers and then try to touch 
the feet of the other. This latter mode of saluta- 
tion is a common one, and is alluded to as an act 
of worship in Job xxxi. 27. 

To kiss the beard (either actually, or by touch- 
ing it with the right hand, as mentioned just above) 
is also a token of great respect or of humble 
supplication. Several times have persons who 
wanted some special favour from me tried to thus 
show their respect. This, too, seems to me the 
explanation of the action of Joab mentioned in 
2 Sam. xx. 9 — viz., that he touched or took hold 
of Amasa's beard to kiss it, hypocritically pretend- 
ing to pay great honour to him whom David had 
just appointed captain of the host, and while stoop- 
ing to salute him thus both disarmed his rival's 
suspicions and saw where to strike the fatal blow. 

Beards are universally worn by the men, and 

one who cannot grow a beard is looked upon as 

something uncanny, and the Moslems especially 

think it most unlucky to meet such a man on 

setting out on a journey. There is a proverb 



about this which runs : ' Meet goblins in the 
morning rather than a beardless man.' The beard 
is much respected by them. ' How is your beard V 
is a salutation I once heard. ' May God reward 
your beard !' was a blessing once invoked on me 
by a would-be recipient of alms. A man with 
a sharp-pointed beard — indicative, I believe, of a 
pure Arabic descent — is supposed by the Fellahin 
to have special intellectual power. Such a man 
is called a Kusah. In illustration of this they 
tell the following story: 'The great enemy of 
mankind, wishing to find a pretext to injure the 
people of a certain village, sent his son to ask 
them to weave a carpet of flint. He told the 
messenger that on no account was he to ask the 
question if a KHsah were present. When he 
arrived at the village, he found all the elders 
assembled in the guest-house, and, looking round, 
could see no one at all answering to the descrip- 
tion of the man he was to avoid. Accordingly 
he proffered his request. It so happened, however, 
that there was such a man there, lying down 
behind a row of people, and covered with a cloak. 
When the evil spirit had done speaking this man 
rose up and said : " Tell him who sent you that if 
he will spin the flint into thread we will weave it 
into a carpet for him." Whereupon the fiend 
retired discomfited.' This story is widely known, 
and, though foolish enough to Western ears, is 
often alluded to, and men of this description are 
liable to much fun being made of them, but they 
are generally equal to the occasion. 

A KUSAH 275 

Recently one of them went to a large village 
in the Nablus district, and as usual was taken to 
the guest-house. One of the elders of the place, 
who had a very fine beard, welcomed him, and 
then said laughingly : ' Sir Kusah, can you spin 
flint?' The latter made no reply, but after a 
while, when a number of people were assembled, 
and there was a lull in the conversation, he said : 
' I want to buy hair ; is there any to be had in 
your village V * Oh yes, plenty,' said his hosts. 
t How much per rottle (6| pounds) ?' 'So much,' 
was the reply. Then, pointing to the fine beard of 
the joker, he asked : ' How many beards like this 
will it take to make a rottle ?' There was a roar 
of laughter at the other's expense, and he was so 
teased about it that he was glad to purchase silence 
by a good present to the Kusah. 

Neighbours play a very important part in the 
daily life of the Fellahin, both for good and evil. 
This is more or less inevitable in all countries, 
but particularly so in Eastern lands, where the 
houses are crowded together much more closely 
than is the case in our English villages. There 
are in Palestine no outlying farmhouses, and no 
labourers' cottages scattered here and there. Till 
quite recent years no one would have dared to 
build a house by itself away in the open country, 
and even to-day, although there is much greater 
security than formerly, it would not always be 
safe to do so. The houses are all found in the 
villages, and usually are crowded together as 
closely as possible, chiefly, no doubt, for mutual 



protection. The smaller the circumference of the 
village ceteris paribus, the easier it was to defend 
it in case of attack. Consequently the houses join 
each other, or several will be built round a common 
courtyard, all opening into it. This naturally 
throws the inhabitants of adjacent houses or rooms 
very much together ; consequently the mere fact of 
a man being a neighbour is held to constitute a 
claim on his good offices. Hence the proverb, g A 
neighbour who is near by rather than a brother who 
is far off.' Even where the neighbour is not all he 
ought to be, it is recognised that one has a duty to 
him, as says the proverb, • Neighbour, you must 
bear with your neighbour, even if he throw stones 
at you.' On the other hand, the evils of bad neigh- 
bours are fully recognised. Thus one of their 
proverbs says : ■ A house without a neighbour is 
worth a hundred dinars '; and again : ' Inquire 
about the neighbour before you ask about the 
house.' A sound piece of advice is contained in 
the following : ' If your neighbour hate you, change 
the door of your house ' ; while ' A bad neighbour 
is infectious ' is profoundly true. Another, ' Search 
your house several times before you suspect your 
neighbour,' if carried out everywhere, would prevent 
much trouble and quarrelling in other countries 
besides Palestine. 

The Fellahin are exceedingly hospitable, and are 
always ready to give food to any guest or stranger 
who asks it. This hospitality is looked on as a 
religious duty, and is most ungrudgingly dispensed. 

Along the great caravan routes and other main 


lines of travel khans or inns will be found. In 
olden times Kings and great men sometimes built 
such places where needed ; the beautiful ruined 
Khan et Tujjar on the road between Tiberias 
and Tabor will be an instance familiar to most 
travellers in Palestine. Such places seem to have 
existed in Old Testament times also, as the Khan 
of Chinham mentioned in Jer. xli. 17. Off the 
lines of travel no such places are to be found in 
the country districts where the passing stranger can 
get food and shelter. 

Each village, however, has its guest-house, and if 
large, or its principal men wealthy, there may be 
several. These guest-rooms play an important 
part in the village life. Here any strangers who 
may wish for a night's lodging are received, if they 
have no friends or relations in the place. Here, 
too, come the Government officials when collecting 
taxes, or on any other business. In the guest-house 
the villagers gather when a stranger arrives in order 
to hear the news, for newspapers are but rarely seen 
in the country places, and but few comparatively 
can read, so they still depend largely on passing 
strangers or a chance visitor from a town for their 
knowledge of what is happening in the outside 
world. The guest-house is sometimes a room in 
the sheikh's house, but more commonly it is a 
building by itself in a central position, and occa- 
sionally, chiefly in the smaller hamlets, the same 
room is guest-house and mosque. It is a large 
room absolutely devoid of furniture ; there is often 
a sort of hearth in the centre where a fire is lit 


when needed for making coffee for guests, or in 
cold weather for warmth. The roof is generally 
black with the smoke of years, as there is rarely 
any sort of chimney, and the smoke fills the apart- 
ment, escaping only through the door and window. 

It is a picturesque sight which these guest-rooms 
present at night, with a crowd of swarthy men 
seated on the ground in various easy attitudes 
around the central hearth, on which burns a fire of 
twigs, the bright blaze lighting up their weather- 
beaten faces and bringing into sharp relief the 
white beards of the older men. The long pipes are 
filled and lit, and their smoke mingles with that of 
the fire. There is the hum of conversation all 
round, or else breathless silence while someone tells 
a thrilling tale of adventure, robbery, or war ; or an 
animated discussion takes place over some matter 
of keen local interest. Many an evening have I 
spent in the village guest-houses, and many an 
attentive audience have I had as I told the story 
of redemption in Jesus Christ to the Moslem 

If a guest arrives during the day for an hour or 
two's rest, a mat will be spread for him, and 
mattresses and cushions fetched from the sheikh's 
house, and he will be urged to take his rest ; food 
will generally be quickly brought — two or three 
loaves of bread and some olives, or grapes or figs, 
according to the time of year, or, if a person of 
importance, a fowl will be killed and quickly 
cooked for him. If, however, he stay the night, a 
more substantial meal will be provided. After the 


evening prayers in the mosque, a large copper tray 
or wooden bowl, heaped high with boiled rice or 
cracked wheat, or sometimes with wheat below, for 
the ordinary guests, and rice above for the more 
distinguished ones, is brought in. On the rice are 
joints of meat, mutton, or goat's flesh (the ordinary 
peasants never eat beef), and the master of the 
ceremonies carries an armful of round flat loaves of 
bread which he distributes at intervals round the 
dish. The guests then take their places, having 
first washed their hands. With a ' In the name of 
God,' each plunges his right hand into the pile of 
rice, and dexterously rolling up a ball of it, conveys 
it to his mouth. The meat, which is always boiled, 
is very thoroughly cooked, so that it is easy to 
detach pieces with the right hand, it being con- 
sidered very bad manners, especially by the 
Moslems, to use the left hand. The sheikh 
waits personally on the guests, often holding the 
light that they may better see, urging them to eat, 
or tearing off some dainty piece and putting it 
before some guest whom he wishes specially to 

The Fellahin do not usually drink till towards 
the close of a meal, and then they do so as a rule 
from the Slierbeh, or water cooler, which is a small 
pitcher with a spout at one side, from which they 
pour the water into their mouths without touching 
the vessel with their lips, as they all have the 
knack of swallowing the water with their mouths 
wide open. 

After supper coffee is invariably served. This 


beverage is so widely used that it may almost be 
said to be a necessary of the Arab's life. On the 
arrival of guests it is always offered to them, being 
made then and there. If no fire be actually 
burning at the time, a few sticks are taken and 
kindled, and the requisite number of coffee-beans 
are placed in a large shallow iron spoon and care- 
fully roasted over the flame, being stirred with an 
iron rod all the time to prevent them burning. 
When sufficiently roasted they are poured into a 
mortar made of stone or wood, and pounded with 
a wooden pestal, the coffee-maker beating a sort of 
tattoo on the sides and bottom of the mortar with 
the pestle as he does so. This sound produced by 
anyone who is clever at it is much admired by the 
Arabs, and is not unpleasing to a European ear. 
When pounded, the fragrant powder is put in a 
deep brass or iron pot, with the due amount of 
water, and placed on the embers to boil. To get 
the full flavour out of it, it ought to be brought to 
the boil four or five times, being allowed to subside 
as often by removing the vessel for a few seconds 
from the fire. When ready, the coffee-maker takes 
one or more china cups, which he usually washes 
out first, and, pouring a little coffee into one cup, 
next empties it into the other cups in succession, 
and then drinks it himself. This is to show that 
there is no poison in any of the cups, a common 
method of getting rid of an enemy being by means 
of a cup of poisoned coffee. The preliminaries 
being concluded, the coffee is served out. 

The cups, which are of various shapes, contain 



7 i ice pc ;» ..■■:!. 


usually but little more than a good-sized egg-cup, 
and are filled about two-thirds full. It is proper to 
sip it slowly, and somewhat noisily, to show one's 
appreciation of it ! Guests or strangers, in order 
of rank or precedence, are always served first, 
unless there be someone of much higher position 
than anyone else present. It is drunk both 
sweetened and unsweetened, the latter being 
always served after a meal, and milk is never 
added ; at other times a guest will often be asked 
whether he prefers it ' sweet ' or ' bitter.' When 
the cup is returned to the server, the latter receives 
it in his left hand, and immediately covers it with 
his right, lest the guest's feelings should be offended 
by the sight of the grounds ! The Fellahin are 
great connoisseurs of coffee, though not quite so 
much so, perhaps, as the Bedouin, and it is used on 
all manner of occasions. Hardly ever is a bargain 
set about without this preliminary ; every guest as 
he arrives must be welcomed with it, and it is 
wonderful how it smooths over obstacles and 
prepares the way for an amicable settlement of 
difficult and contentious matters. In my itinerant 
missionary work I have, times without number, 
proved it invaluable in collecting an attentive 
audience to listen to my message. 

Children are not usually given coffee in the 
guest-houses, or on public occasions, and when a 
youth begins to have it habitually he is considered 
to have come to man's estate. A few of the more 
ascetic Moslems do not drink coffee, classing it 
with alcoholic beverages forbidden by their prophet. 


Technically speaking, no doubt they are right, the 
Arabic word for coffee being an archaic term for 
wine. But there can be little doubt but that it 
was transferred to coffee, and that the latter is not 
included in the prohibition referred to in the Koran. 

The food and coffee for guests, and fodder for 
their horses, is usually supplied at the cost of the 
villagers in general, but different plans are adopted 
in different places for assessing the people. In one 
village I know, the families in rotation supply any 
guests there may be with supper. In this case 
each family gives some different article to the 
sheikh of the place, and he arranges these in order ; 
and when the family whose object is next in the 
row has provided supper in its turn, its token is 
removed and placed last, and so on till the whole is 
finished, and the turns begin again. 

In another place I know well the food for the 
soldiers who come to collect the taxes, and the corn 
for their horses, is assessed on the people according 
to the amount of land each owns. The name of 
each proprietor of land is written on one or more 
pieces of paper, according to the smaller or larger 
number of Feddadin, or acres, he has, these pieces 
of paper being strung on a thread which is then 
fastened to a stick in shape of a bow, all the papers 
being pushed to one end. Each time a man (the 
next in order) provides food or fodder for the 
soldiers the piece of paper bearing his name is 
pushed to the other end of the string. At yet 
other places the villagers pay a fixed amount per 
annum towards the cost of entertaining guests. 


miscellaneous (continued) 

Justice was formerly almost exclusively adminis- 
tered by the village sheikhs, and though, since the 
introduction by the late Midhat Pasha of European 
modes of civil government, the Ottoman Power has 
taken these matters more into its own immediate 
control, yet many cases are settled locally without 
ever coming into the Turkish courts. This holds 
good not only in minor matters, but even in such 
serious ones as murder. Custom and unwritten 
law have much to do with these things, and though 
now the Turkish authorities intervene in many 
cases, yet there are very many of which they never 
hear, or of which they take no cognizance. In the 
cases where they do intervene I have never once 
known the death penalty to be inflicted, even where 
there was no manner of doubt as to the man's guilt. 
The utmost that has been done in such cases is to 
sentence the criminal to fifteen years' imprison- 
ment, which is usually carried out in the ' Blood 
Prison ' of Jerusalem or in that of Acca — a punish- 
ment which, as the natives themselves say, is 
wholly inadequate as a deterrent. Where, how- 



ever, the people take the matter into their own 
hands, blood can, as a rule, only be atoned for by 
blood. Thus, if a man were murdered, his relations 
might kill any member of the family of the man 
who had committed the crime, however distantly 
connected he might be, and nothing would be said ; 
or, instead of putting the murderer to death, they 
might plunder him of everything. Failing any 
relation of the criminal, any friend, or even anyone 
from the same clan or village, may be put to death. 
This custom is still in force. Some years ago I 
was travelling east of the Jordan in a district with 
which I was unfamilar, and accordingly took a 
guide with me, who was to go as far as a certain 
town in Western Palestine, the latter part of the 
journey being quite new to him. The last day, 
after we had crossed the Jordan, I happened to 
mention incidentally that we should pass a certain 
village, at which he expressed great alarm, telling 
me that a man from there had lately been murdered 
at his village, and the murder having been not yet 
arranged about, he felt sure he would be killed 
were he recognised by the people of the place we 
were approaching as being from the district where 
the murder occurred. Happily he was not detected, 
but he was in great trepidation till we had got 
safely past. 

Sometimes a murder is settled by a money pay- 
ment arranged between the relations of the murderer 
and murdered person. Recently a man from a 
village near Jerusalem murdered another from a 
place in the maritime plain. The affair was finally 



S ^'V : y' 

* -Jk 

" RUJ.M. 

Tofaeepage 285. 


settled by the people of the former place paying a 
sum of £200 to the people of the latter, and giving 
a girl also, worth at least £50, as a bride to a man 
there, the people from the village in the plain being 
allowed to come and choose any girl there. 

In cases where a man is murdered, and the 
murderer is also killed on the spot, no information 
is given to the Government, and no more notice is 
taken of it, as the affair is considered to be closed 
by the death of the latter. 

If a man is found murdered by the wayside, a 
small cairn of stones is piled upon the spot, and 
each person from the dead man's village, as he 
passes, throws a stone upon it until the murder is 
arranged, or until, from lapse of time, the affair 
ceases to be remembered. Such cairns are often 
seen near the road, and are known as Rujm Ful&n 
(So-and-so's heap), or simply as Meshad — i.e., a 

There are villages in different parts of the country 
whose inhabitants are notorious as thieves ; indeed, 
there are people whose business is to go about the 
country stealing animals. I once came across a 
couple of these fellows who were professional 
donkey-stealers. They would cut out a straggling 
ass from a caravan, or an animal which had been 
sent out to graze with others, and which had 
wandered too far from a not overwatchful herds- 
man. These men would not stop at murder should 
the owner arrive on the scene and attempt to 
recover his property, provided the risks were not 
too great. There is a not inconsiderable amount 


of cattle-stealing in the same way, the animals 
being driven to a convenient town and sold to the 
butchers ; and if common report is to be credited, 
a good deal of the beef sold in Jerusalem is obtained 
in this manner. 

A certain amount of smuggling is carried on in 
salt. Salt is a monopoly of the Turkish Govern- 
ment, which manufactures immense quantities from 
sea-water. This is sold throughout the country, 
each family in the villages having to buy from the 
authorities a certain amount per annum. As is 
well known, enormous deposits of salt exist in the 
neighbourhood of the Dead Sea, and this is 
smuggled to a small extent by the Bedouin, who 
bring it by night to the villages and sell it at a 
much lower rate than the Government article. 

There is a bad custom, happily but rarely found, 
of injuring people, or of revenging an injury, real 
or imaginary, which consists in cutting down a 
person's olive or other fruit-bearing trees, or injuring 
them so that they gradually die. It is, however, 
looked upon by the people themselves as particularly 
barbarous, and is but seldom resorted to ; but I 
have known a few cases of it, one of them being of 
a particularly atrocious character. A man died, 
leaving to his only son, a child, certain property, 
part of which consisted of fruit-trees — olives, figs, 
etc. — the land on which they grew, in accordance 
with the peculiar tenure already explained, not 
being his. One morning it was found that during 
the night all the trees had been cut down, doubtless 
by, or at the instigation of, the owner of the ground, 


the child thus losing, by Turkish law, all claim to 
the ground, and its value to the other owner being of 
course greatly enhanced thereby. No attempt was 
ever made, as far as 1 know, to bring the offenders 
to justice. 

If a person who is much disliked for any reason 
leaves a village, at the time of his departure some- 
one takes an old jar, or other earthenware vessel of 
no value, and as the obnoxious individual goes out 
of the place dashes it to the ground behind him, 
shattering it in pieces. Two ideas underlie this, 
one being that the person against whom it is 
directed is as worthless as the old jar, and the other 
the hope that their return will be as impossible as 
the restoration of the shattered vessel. 

Beggars are numerous in Palestine, and will 
become more so, since the poverty of the country 
as a whole is steadily increasing. I do not mean 
by beggars the people who tease travellers on the 
beaten tourist track for Backshish, an annoyance 
for which the travellers themselves are chiefly 
responsible, but those who are systematic beggars. 
There are what may be called professional beggars, 
who year by year put in an appearance in the chief 
towns as the tourist season comes on, and of whom 
a few are well off. There are many others, chiefly 
from the villages, who are really very poor, or who 
are from some bodily infirmity unable to work, and 
have no one to support them. They may be seen, 
any day almost, sitting by the wayside with out- 
stretched hand (an attitude which probably suggested 
to St. Paul the graphic simile in Rom. viii. 19) near 


some well-frequented shrine, or outside the gate of 
a city, asking for alms. ' Alms !' they cry — ■ alms, 
sir !' ' Alms, O lady !' ' May God preserve your 
children !' ■ An offering ' (that is, to God) ; or, 
more simply still, ' God exists,' 'God is gracious.' 
Or they come round to the houses with their im- 
portunate cry. They receive a great deal from the 
people, chiefly in the shape of food, alms-giving 
being repeatedly enjoined on Moslems in the 
Koran, and being considered to win merit in the 
world to come. In rich families, if a member is 
sick, loaves of bread will be put round the patient's 
bed, and then given to the beggars in hope that it 
will be accepted as an offering to God on his behalf, 
and that he will recover. 

Borrowing is one of the curses of Palestine ; 
almost everyone borrows, and the rate of interest is 
abnormally high — this not so much because of 
insufficient security as because the borrower is at 
the mercy of the lender. Most men, do what they 
will, have at times to borrow, chiefly because of the 
changed and changing conditions of life and govern- 
ment to which a people, one of the most conserva- 
tive on the face of the earth, naturally is very 
slow in adapting itself. As has been already men- 
tioned, the Fellah may be comfortably off, well 
clad, have abundance of wheat, a good store of 
dried figs, lentils, barley, etc., in his bins, a flock of 
goats and sheep, several yoke of oxen, a good mare 
or two, and yet possess hardly any money. One 
day the Government officials appear, usually with- 
out warning, at his village, and he has to pay a 

USURY 289 

large sum down in hard cash. After scraping 
together every para that he can find, and calling 
in all the small local debts due to him, he is still 
a large amount short. What can he do ? A 
merchant from the city is there, or a Moslem 
grandee, with his pockets full of dollars, and he 
is willing to accommodate our Fellah ; but he 
must have not only substantial security, but a good 
rate of interest also — 20, 25, even 30 per cent. 
(I have known 40 per cent, demanded and given 
for a large loan). • What can I do ?' says the poor 
man. He knows quite well that, were he to say, 
4 1 can't get the money just now,' he would be 
probably marched off to prison, if unable to bribe 
the collector to wait ; besides which it would cost 
him a great deal more to get out of prison, in 
addition to his loss of time, than the interest he 
must pay to the money-lender. Then, if the 
harvest be a failure, or the olive crop short, and he 
cannot repay the principal, the enormous interest 
runs on and has to be paid year by year. 

Few of the peasants are provident enough, when 
they have money, to put any by for taxes or other 
emergency, so when there is any sudden demand for 
ready-money, the man who has it to lend can make 
almost any terms he likes. Savings-banks are un- 
known ; the few banks there are in the country are 
all in the towns, at a considerable distance often, 
and none of them will now, I believe, lend on the 
security of land, and if they did, their history has 
sometimes not been such as to inspire the peasantry 
with confidence in them. The borrower generally 



gives a mortgage on his house and land, and the 
lands of whole villages have sometimes been thus 
acquired by one man, and at far less than their real 

All this applies to comparatively large trans- 
actions ; where the amounts are smaller, or the 
security is less, higher rates than these are charged, 
especially where the loan is for a short time only. 
Thus, sometimes there is a great demand for the 
Turkish dollar, in which certain Government dues 
have to be paid, and for the loan for a few weeks of 
these coins interest at the rate of upwards of 100 per 
cent, per annum is by no means unknown. 

People often borrow to enable them to marry — 
that is, to pay the dowry demanded by the bride's 
father ; or a man will borrow to enable him to 
' buy ' an eligible bride for his son. This is well 
illustrated by one of their proverbs, ' He who 
marries on borrowed money, his children pay the 
interest,' such debts often remaining like a mill- 
stone round the neck of the man and his family to 
the end of his life. 

The taxation of the country is a very serious 
question from whichever side it is viewed. Direct 
taxation is quite a modern innovation, and is a result 
of the attempt, due largely to the initiation of the 
late Midhat Pasha, to Europeanize the codes and 
methods of the Ottoman Empire. The present 
system has been gradually introduced within the 
memory of some still living in Palestine, and as 
now administered shows how unsuited European, 
or quasi-European, methods may be to Orientals. 


The taxes are numerous, and press very heavily 
on the people. There is the land-tax on all but 
freehold and Church property ; the sheep-tax, so 
much per annum on every sheep and goat ; a road- 
tax, for making roads in the province where it is 
levied, although the roads are often delayed for 
many years ; tithes, which are, legally, a tenth of 
the crops and an eighth of the tenth, but which in 
practice may be anything. In addition to these, 
help is frequently asked for the Sultan, and this 
impost, though in theory optional, as a matter of 
fact is compulsory. All the above-mentioned taxes 
are levied on Moslems and Christians alike, but in 
addition to them Christians have to pay a military 
tax. As a badge of servitude they have never been 
allowed to bear arms, and in lieu of military service 
all males have to pay a yearly poll-tax. But the 
chief burden of taxation consists rather in the 
manner of its collection. This is done by mounted 
gendarmerie, who come to a village without warning 
and stay there till they have got the amount they 
want, living meanwhile at the expense of the 
Fellahin. By law, whatever is supplied them or 
their horses ought to be deducted from the taxes, 
but, as a matter of fact, I have never heard of its 
being done ; and these soldiers expect to be supplied 
with the best of everything in the village. 

The taxes are not assessed in most cases on the 
individual villagers, but on the village as a whole. 
The lands, moreover, which from time immemorial 
have belonged to certain villages, are still reckoned 
as belonging to them, even though much of them 



may pass, and in many instances actually has passed, 
into the hands of persons belonging to other places. 
A man may thus own land belonging originally to 
half a dozen villages, and which in the Government 
books is still entered as part of the property of those 
places ; consequently, instead of paying a lump 
sum to the Government for these various properties, 
he has to do it through the local representatives in 
each place. These representatives (Ikhtiyariyeh) 
are chosen by the different houses or families, and 
it is to them, with the village sheikh, that the 
Government sends orders as to the amount of taxes 
demanded from each village, and they have to make 
the best terms they can for their people. They 
have to sign or seal the formal document stating 
the sums required in any year from their village, 
and without their signature or seal the amount 
cannot be legally demanded. Sometimes they 
stand out against what they consider to be an 
exorbitant demand, but there are various ways of 
bringing pressure to bear upon them, and the docu- 
ment is usually signed without alteration. When 
this is done the amount required has to be appor- 
tioned amongst the villagers. These representa- 
tives wish to feather their own nests, and so they 
add something for themselves to the already heavy 
burden of taxation. In the apportioning also of the 
various sums to be paid by different people there is 
room for an immense amount of favouritism and 
unfair dealing. 

Sometimes the taxes, after being paid to the 
Ikhtiyariyeh, are paid directly to the Government, 


but more often there is a middleman, who is called 
a Multezzim., or farmer of taxes, who has bought 
from the Government the taxes of a village for a 
year for a certain fixed sum. The Multezzim 
expects, of course, not only to recoup himself what 
he has paid to the exchequer, but also to make a 
handsome profit, and to enable him to do so, all the 
power of the authorities is at his disposal should he 
wish to invoke it. This, again, opens the door to 
every kind of exaction, especially where, as is some- 
times done, the village representatives, instead of 
resisting an unjust demand on the part of a Multez- 
zim, will accept a bribe from him to say nothing, 
while the unhappy villagers are mulcted in a far 
heavier tax than they ought legally to pay, and 
have absolutely no redress. It need hardly be said 
that these Multezzimin are detested by the people, 
who are usually willing to pay the Government a 
larger sum than they offer for the taxes, in order to 
avoid their exactions. 

The characteristics of the people of different 
villages vary greatly. Thus, the inhabitants of 
one village are notorious thieves, while the adjoining 
village is well known as an industrious and honest 
one. At one the inhabitants are skilled in some 
trade or business, while at the next they are lazy 
and ignorant. Some villages are notoriously stupid. 
A story is told of one, not many miles from Jeru- 
salem, that on a certain occasion not a single person 
in it had any idea what day of the week it was, and 
they had to send one of their number to a Christian 
village some miles away to ascertain ! At another 


village, in a year of very short rainfall, only one 
large cistern full of water remained to supply the 
wants of the inhabitants. This they decided to 
divide amongst them, and proceeded to do so by 
laying sticks across the top, a place being assigned 
to each family from which to draw, and the space 
allotted to the sheikh of the village being twice as 
wide as those for other people, on the ground that 
he had to supply guests as well as the wants of his 
own family ! 

A curious custom of partnership in mares is 
widely spread. If a mare is of really good breed, 
or even if only a good walker and with good 
qualities, it is usually too expensive for one man to 
buy the whole of it, and he will own half, a third, 
two-thirds, etc., as the case may be. The man who 
feeds the animal has the use of it, but the foals are 
given to the respective owners in proportion to their 
shares in it. Thus, if two men own a mare between 
them, they will have the foals alternately ; but if one 
has two-thirds and the other only a third, the former 
has, of course, two out of every three foals, and the 
latter only one, and so on. 

I once bought half a mare from a man who pro- 
fessed to own the whole, but I found after a while 
that there was another partner who had a fourth 
share in her. Joint ownership in a steed is con- 
sidered to constitute a special link between the two 
parties. ' It is,' so the man above mentioned ex- 
plained to me, ' as if I had married your daughter 
or you had married mine !' This quasi-relationship 
(at least, where a European is concerned) is rather 


a nuisance, and in my case I terminated it as soon 
as I could by purchasing the rest of the shares. 

The Fellahin like to let their horses' tails grow 
very long, and in the case of white or gray {blue, as 
the latter are called in Arabic) horses they often dye 
them a bright orange colour with the leaves of the 
henna tree (Lazvsonia inermis). In winter they tie 
them up in a knot to keep them out of the mud. 
They take it as an insult if anything be done to 
the tail. I knew of a case where a man had a 
beautiful long- tailed mare, which on one occasion, 
while its owner was at a village on business, was 
put in a stable where was another mare with a foal. 
This foal during the night bit off a great part of 
the visitor's tail, a not uncommon trick of foals in 
Palestine, and the owner of the foal had to give the 
other man a valuable present to make up for the 
injury or slight thus done to him. 

The native saddles are much broader than ours, 
being very thickly padded, and are very uncomfort- 
able for Europeans to ride. The bits are exceed- 
ingly powerful, and even cruel things, but quite 
unnecessarily so. The horses' mouths are no harder 
than those of Europe, and in the case of horses I 
have had for any time I invariably used an ordinary 
English bit with curb, but always rode them on 
the snaffle, and found it sufficient, except when 
they tried to bolt. The stirrups are great shovel- 
shaped plates of iron or brass, the corners of whicli 
are used instead of spurs. The Arabs ride with 
very short stirrups, retaining their seats by their 
splendid balance rather than by the grip of the 


knees. They guide their horses, too, by the pressure 
of the rein on the neck of the steed, and not by the 
bit. In the hot weather, especially on long journeys, 
a cloth is usually tied under the horse's body over 
the girths in order to keep off the flies, which are 
a terrible torment at times to both horse and rider. 
For the same purpose ornamental trappings of wool 
are hung over the horse's neck, falling over its chest, 
the numerous tassels flapping about as the animal 
goes along helping to hinder the flies from alighting 
on its body. 

The Fellahin are very shrewd in giving nick- 
names to people, seizing on some peculiarity, 
characteristic, or feature. Thus I remember a 
traveller who had long flowing whiskers who, in 
accordance with a well-known Arabic idiom, was 
promptly dubbed 'the Father of Two Beards.' 

The reckoning of time is always very puzzling to 
a new-comer to Palestine, there being practically 
four different methods. The Jews have their 
ancient reckoning, the ecclesiastical year beginning 
at the Passover, in the spring, and the civil year in 
the autumn. The Mohammedan year is a lunar, 
and not, as ours, a solar year. It is, therefore, 
twelve or thirteen days shorter than ours, and their 
Moslem New Year's Day travels backward, so to 
speak, that number of days every year. The 
Christians, on the other hand, follow the solar 
reckoning, but here again there are two different 
ways of calculating the time. The Oriental Churches 
follow the Eastern reckoning, better known in 
England as the Old Style, and that which still 


obtains in Russia. The Roman Catholics and 
Protestant bodies use the Western reckoning in 
common with the greater part of the civilized 
world. In all legal documents it has to be clearly 
specified which reckoning is intended. The error 
in calculation which has produced the difference 
in the Eastern and Western times increases this 
difference by a day each century. Thus, in 1900 
the difference between the two amounted to twelve 
days, and in 1901 to thirteen. This fact, together 
with the different manner of calculating Easter, 
makes a considerable difference each year in the 
interval between the days on which the Eastern 
and Western Churches observe the festival. Thus, 
very occasionally the two coincide, but usually 
there is an interval of one or more weeks between 
them, and even sometimes it amounts to as much 
as five weeks. 

The day in the East is still considered to begin 
at sunset, and in Arabic the term ' to-night ' means 
what we should call 'last night.' Thus, two 
friends meeting on a journey will sometimes ask 
each other, ' Where did you stay to-night ?' an 
expression which sounds strange to us, but is by 
their reckoning the correct one. 

A common way of reckoning for the repayment 
of loans among the Fellahin is from harvest to 
harvest, or, as they phrase it, ' from threshing-floor 
to threshing-floor.' I once heard of a peasant who 
borrowed a sum of money from another, which 
was to be repaid in a year. They ■ wrote a paper,' 
as the saying is, about it. Soon after a townsman, 


a friend of the creditor, heard of it, and, meeting 
the man one day, inquired if he had taken the 
precaution of stating the date at which the loan 
was to be repaid, and was assured it was so. On 
asking to see the document, he found that 
Mohammed Abdullah promised to pay Hassan 
Ahmed such-and-such a sum when next the Jak us 
(a kind of cucumber) were ripe ! 

Another thing which is peculiarly tiying and 
puzzling to a foreigner at first, and which, even 
after many years' residence and a wide experience, 
adds enormously to the difficulties of book-keeping, 
is the complexity of the coinage. As already 
mentioned, there is but little actual cash in the 
country. In the towns this is to some extent 
obviated by the large amount of foreign money 
in circulation, especially the twenty-franc pieces 
of France, Italy, Austria, Greece, etc., as well as 
some of the silver currency of those countries ; but 
in the villages the only foreign money which will 
be accepted is the gold coinage, the small change 
being Turkish only. It is well known that the 
piastre is the unit by which the values of all coins 
are calculated throughout the Ottoman Empire ; 
but, strange as it may seem, there is now no such 
coin as a piastre in existence in Syria, although the 
coins are all either multiples or fractions of the 
piastre. The consequence of this is that this 
imaginary coin has different values in different parts 
of the country ; thus, in Jerusalem the Turkish 
dollar, the Mejidie — so called from having been first 
coined by a former Sultan called Abd-ul-Majid 

SEALS 299 

(Slave of the Glorious One ) — is worth twenty- 
three piastres, at Jaffa it is worth twenty-five, 
but at Gaza it is equal to forty-six. Nor is this 
all : the merchant has one piastre, the Government 
another. In the shop, the bazaar, and in all the 
commercial transactions of daily life, prices are 
stated in the former, which is known as Shuruk ; 
while taxes, stamps, telegrams, Government fees, 
etc., are calculated in the latter, known as Sagh. 
The hindrance which all this complicated system 
is to commerce is better imagined than described. 

In witnessing legal documents, wills, contracts, 
deeds of sale, and in signing letters, a man's 
signature has no value in the East : he must affix 
his seal to them. This no doubt arose from the fact 
that very few people could write, and that, as 
to-day, most letters were written by a scribe or 
professional letter -writer, consequently the fact 
of a man's name being appended to a document 
was no proof that he was bound by its contents ; 
so seals were invented, each person having his 
own seal, made of brass or silver, with his name 
engraved on it, and this he carried about with him. 
To give one's seal to another man to use on one's 
behalf would imply unbounded confidence in him, 
and would be like giving a signed blank cheque 
to another in England. I have, however, occa- 
sionally known this done when some important 
document had to be witnessed and one of the 
signatories could not be present ; the absentee 
sent his seal by someone else to be affixed to the 
deed. The seal is not used, as in England, with 


wax, but ink. A little of the thick native ink 
is spread over the seal with the tip of the little 
finger, and then allowed to become nearly dry ; 
the paper at the spot where it has to be affixed 
is next damped, and the seal is pressed on it, and 
leaves a black disc with the inscription in white in 
the centre. 

The musical instruments of the Fellahin are few 
and simple. The commonest is the pipe. This 
consists usually of two reeds, about the thickness 
of a finger, fastened side by side, with six holes in 
each. In the top of these reeds two smaller ones 
are inserted loosely, forming the mouth-pieces. 
These are formed as follows : A thin reed is taken, 
and a piece about 3j> inches long is cut off at a 
joint, the upper end being closed by the joint ; the 
lower and open end is trimmed to fit closely in the 
upper end of one of the large ones ; then a notch is 
cut about two-thirds of the length of the mouth- 
piece from the top, just through the wall of the 
reed, and a cut made up to the joint, thus forming 
a tongue or vibrator, which remains attached at its 
upper end. The second mouth-piece is exactly like 
the first, and both are attached to the rest of the 
pipe by strings that they may not be lost, as they 
fit but loosely into the latter. To play the instru- 
ment the two mouth-pieces are put in the reeds, 
and then inserted in the mouth, up to the top of 
the large reeds. Both are of the same pitch and 
produce the same notes, the object of the second 
pipe being merely to increase the volume of sound. 
The different notes are produced by playing the 


three fingers of each hand across the two rows of 
holes. Sometimes the pipe has the second reed 
much larger than the first, and without holes, the 
effect being like that of the drone of the Highland 
bagpipes. Occasionally other substances than 
reeds are used. I once had a pipe which was made 
of the leg-bones of a vulture. Another kind of 
pipe is made of a single large reed, in appearance 
rather like a flute, but blown from the upper end 
instead of from the side. 

Another musical instrument is a kind of violin. 
This consists of a rectangular box made of a wooden 
framework over which a skin is tightly sewn. From 
the centre of one of the short sides an iron pin pro- 
jects, and from the opposite one a horn or piece 
of rounded wood about 20 inches long. A single 
string of several strands of horsehair is fastened to 
this iron pin, and, passing over a little wooden 
bridge near to the lower end of the box, is secured 
to a peg in the horn, the peg being used to tighten 
up the string, as in our violins. The bow is formed 
of a stout rough twig, with a few horsehairs 
stretched tightly across. The player sits to play, 
holding the instrument before him, resting it on the 
ground by the pin at the lower end. 

Small hand-drums made of pottery, in shape like 
the neck and upper part of a large jar, are much 
used on festival occasions ; animal membrane is tied 
tightly over the larger end, the smaller one being 
left open. It is held under the arm, being beaten 
with the palm of the hand. 



No work on the Fellahin could be at all complete 
which did not give some account of their proverbs. 
Throughout the East the proverb or parable (in 
colloquial Arabic the two are synonymous) plays a 
very large part in conversation, teaching, and con- 
troversy. One reason of this is that the Oriental 
mind, as compared with the Western, is not a 
logical one. Close-reasoned argument appeals but 
little, even to educated men. With all classes, but 
especially with the uneducated, an apt illustration 
or an appropriate proverb will be infinitely more 
convincing than the best reasoned and most logical 

Our blessed Lord's frequent use of parables and 
metaphor is in the fullest accord with the mental 
processes and characteristics of the Gentile in- 
habitants of Palestine to-day, as it was with those 
of their Jewish predecessors of His own time. 
Very instructive, too, is the difference in this 
respect between the writings of him who, an 
Oriental by birth, was by education largely a 

Western, the Apostle St. Paul. In his Epistle 



to the Romans, a Western race, we have closely- 
reasoned argument of the very highest order ; but 
in that to the Galatians, a race Oriental in its 
characteristics (whatever its origin may have been), 
we find little or no argument, but much illustration. 

If this holds good of the East generally, it does 
so very especially of the Arabic-speaking races, and 
the Fellahin of Palestine are no exception. Their 
language is one which lends itself peculiarly well 
to terse epigrammatic expression. The wide area 
over which it is spoken, and the great length of 
time during which it has been in use, have also 
tended to enrich it in this way. From a literary 
point of view the Arabs distinguish between the 
proverb (Metkal) and the aphorism (Kddthah), but 
in practice all are included in the former term. 

The number of Arabic proverbs is enormous, and 
large volumes of them have been published. The 
Fellahin have many in current use, and no incon- 
siderable portion of these are peculiar to them, not 
being found in any known collection. Of those 
current among the peasantry I have collected some 
nine hundred. No doubt a good many of these are 
included in one or other of the various collections, 
but a considerable portion are not found in print. 
It is of the greatest value to the missionary, and, 
indeed, to all who wish to be able to enter fully 
into the conversation of the people, to have a good 
knowledge of the more generally used proverbs and 
sayings, not only as illustrating the mode of thought 
of the people, but also as giving the European an 
effective means of conveying teaching in a form 


readily assimilated by the Oriental. ' We have a 
proverb ' or ' like the proverb ' is a frequent clincher 
to a statement or proof. 

It goes without saying that, as in other languages, 
many a proverb is untranslatable, its whole point 
turning on a play on words, an alliteration, or an 
onomatopoetic term, and the like. 

Archbishop Trench, in his lectures on Proverbs, 
speaking of the collection of modern Arabic saws 
gathered in Egypt by the traveller Burckhardt, 
says that they reveal ' generally the whole character 
of life, alike the outward and inward, as poor, mean, 
sordid, and ignoble, with only a few faintest glimpses 
of that romance which one usually attaches to the 
East.' Such words, however true they may be of 
the particular collection to which they are applied, 
are certainly in no way applicable to those under 
review now. The really bad proverbs are, as far as 
my experience goes, very few ; here and there one 
comes across a coarse one ; some there are which 
one must class as cynical ; while yet others with 
shrewd, but not unkindly, hand reveal the real 
motives of a fallen nature, shared alike by Easterns 
and Westerns ; many show a kindly wit, and some 
are really beautiful. 

Of course, not a few of these proverbs express, 
with local colouring, ideas which are found in all 
ages and wisdom common to all nations. Among 
these the following will readily suggest parallels in 
our own and other languages : ' If speech be silver, 
silence is gold.' ' Rippling water will not drown 
anyone.' ' One bitten (by a snake) fears a rope.' 


1 Stretch your legs according to your bed,' which 
expresses the same idea as our proverb, ' Cut your 
coat according to your cloth.' ' Dine and rest, sup 
and walk,' of which there is a longer version, ' Dine 
and rest, though but for two minutes ; sup and 
walk, though but two steps.' ' Don't say " beans " 
till they are in your bag ' is the equivalent of 
'Don't count your chickens before they are 
hatched,' the circumstance that the words in Arabic 
for ' bag ' and ' beans ' rhyme with each other being 
the reason for the form of this proverb. ' The eye sees 
not, the heart grieves not.' ' Absent from the eye, 
absent from the mind.' ' Borrowed clothes don't 
last.' ' When cooks increase the food is burnt.' 'Live 
in a place and eat of its onions ' (a very favourite 
vegetable with the Fellahin). These, taken almost 
at random, will illustrate the similarity of thought 
and expression which produced the proverbs in our 
own language and Arabic. 

1 The head has much headache ' is a good instance 
of a saying which depends for its point on a two- 
fold meaning of a word, ' head ' signifying also 
■ chief ' or ' sovereign,' the proverb being thus 
the equivalent of our ' Uneasy lies the head that 
wears a crown.' 

Among a race so religiously-minded as the 
Syrians, this feature is sure to be shown in their 
proverbial sayings. The following specimens will 
illustrate this : ' Men depend on men and all on 
God.' ' There are no two together but God makes 
a third.' ' An hour's blessing is worth a year's 
labour.' A belief in God's care for the humblest 



even of His creatures declares itself in ' God breaks 
the camel to give the jackal a supper.' That the 
fact of man's inherent sinfulness has been grasped 
we see in the following : * Two only sin not, the 
dead and the unborn.' 

Those who have travelled in the East, and have 
suddenly come on the hideous spectacle of the 
bloated carcass of a horse or camel lying by the 
wayside, with vultures, ravens, and the. half-wild 
dogs tearing at it, will appreciate the insight of 
' The world is a carcass, and they that seek it are 
dogs.' In contrast to this is a very beautiful one 
on humility : ' Low-lying land drinks its own water 
and that of other places.' One on patience runs: 
' Patience opens the door of rest.' A very fine one 
is, ' Every soul is monarch in its own body.' 
Covetousness is rebuked by ' Nothing will fill (i.e., 
satisfy) the eye of man but a handful of earth (i.e., 
the grave) '; while the uncertainty of all human 
things is depicted by ' The world is a wheel, one 
hour for you, the next against you.' The result of 
sin is forcibly shown by, ' The devil's flour turns 
out all bran.' 

Full of wisdom are the two following : ' The 
rose left a thorn behind it, and the thorn a rose.' 
* A fool threw a stone into a well ; a hundred wise 
men could not get it out.' Some of the proverbs 
are keenly sarcastic ; one such which is particularly 
applicable in the East, where a sort of clan life is in 
vogue, is, * Your relations are your scorpions,' the 
point of the comparison lying in the similarity of 
the words for scorpions and relatives, which differ 


only in the initial letters. The impossible is ex- 
pressed by, ' One hand can't hold two water-melons,' 
a fact self-evident to anyone who has seen those of 
Palestine. An unreasonable man who seeks the 
unattainable is described as 'wanting a wooden 
cat which will mew and not eat.' A stupid woman 
who does not see that her duty is at home is 
depicted by the following : ' She left her husband 
sorrowing, and went to comfort people at another 

1 Between Bana and Hana our beard disappeared ' 
is suggested by the well-known story of the man 
who had two wives, one old, the other young ; the 
former pulled all the black hairs out of his beard, 
the other all the gray ones, and thus between them 
he was left beardless, a great misfortune to an 
Oriental. Another proverb on the beard is, ' Hair 
on hair makes a beard,' being the equivalent of the 
Scotch one, ' Mony a little makes a mickle.' 

The hospitality of the Fellahin comes out in 
their proverbs ; a good instance is, ' A small house 
will hold a hundred friends ' — i.e., if they be really 
friends ; or, ' Trade by the dram, generosity by 
the hundredweight.' ' Who sows kindness reaps 
gratitude ' is unfortunately not always true, and is 
counterbalanced by another, used of an ungrateful 
person, which runs : ' Like the mule, you give it its 
fodder, it gives you a kick.' The fact that a small 
kindness often results in a greater is graphically 
shown by, ' A gift goes on a donkey and returns on 
a camel.' But it is only right to add that this 
proverb has another side to it, and that it is a 



common practice to give a small present with the 
view of bringing back a more valuable one. Another 
referring to hospitality is, ' Feed the mouth, and 
the eye will be ashamed ' — that is, the person will 
be ashamed to do you harm. 

Eastern justice (or what passes as such) is the 
subject of several proverbs. Its inconsequence is 
satirized in the following : ' If the tailor commits a 
crime, we hang the saddler.' Someone must be 
punished to save appearances, and the one who 
comes handiest suffers, whether he be guilty or not. 
' He who goes to the Kadi alone will come back 
satisfied ' is too obvious to require explanation, and 
the same applies to ' Delay weakens justice.' 'The 
sheikh's child is a sheikh,' ' The prince's dog is a 
prince,' ' The respect for the slave is from the 
respect for his master,' are all self-evident. 

In the East saddle-bags are frequently carried on 
horseback, being fastened to the back of the saddle 
behind the rider. In them are placed the impedi- 
menta for the journey, or the things purchased in 
the town. This has given rise to a proverb on 
ingratitude, which is as follows : ' We let him ride 
behind us, and he put his hand into the saddle- 
bags ' : the one who has been given a lift repays 
the kindness by using the opportunity to steal from 
his benefactor. Another, suggested by the long 
journeys over the rough tracks called in the Orient, 
by courtesy, roads, is, 'A long road brings out 

Trade, as might be supposed, gives rise to a good 
many. ' Partnership is parting ' (an instance of the 


very few cases where an alliteration, or play on 
words, can be translated) shows the bad side of 
business matters. The meaning is that they who 
formerly were friends, when they go into business 
together, soon cease to be such, a sad comment 
on the sharp practices common in those countries, 
though by no means confined to them. Such 
practices are illustrated by ' Selling is loss, buying 
is trickery,' and rebuked by ' Greed is injury, not 
gain.' ' One can't be both merchant and astro- 
nomer ' is a truism. Another declares that * You 
may overcome all enmity but that of your rival in 
trade.' ' Don't praise the market till its close ' is 
sound advice, as is ' Don't start a khan with one 

Agriculture is another fruitful theme. The 
following will show what a variety there is on 
this subject. * The crooked furrow is from the 
old ox.' * The diseased sheep infects the whole 
flock.' * What is fallow is fallow, what is ploughed 
is ploughed ' — that is, the matter is closed and the 
opportunity gone. ' The reckoning of the thresh- 
ing-floor does not tally with that of the field ' — used 
of disappointed hopes. ' The master's eye is a 
second spring.' The spring is the time when the 
grass grows abundantly and animals are turned 
out to graze and get into condition, so the word 
has come to be used colloquially as meaning 
abundant pasture ; this will make clear the idea 
of the proverb. ' March milk is forbidden to 
unbelievers.' This saying betrays its Mohammedan 
origin ; the milk is at its best in March, and, 


therefore, with the usual Moslem intolerance, is 
to be denied to those of other creeds, who are all 
contemptuously classed together as unbelievers. 
' When the cow falls there are many to flay her,' 
• Like a camel ploughing, he treads down as fast 
as he breaks up,' 'As you sow, thus you shall 
reap.' ' There is dew and simoon when the olive 
blossoms set,' need no explanation. 

Of what may be called moral proverbs there are 
many ; the following is a fine one : ' The patient 
man conquered, the impatient became an un- 
believer.' The adulation of the rich is ridiculed 
in, ' If a rich man eat a snake, " How wise !" say 
they ; if a poor man, " Oh, he is poor !" The two 
following enforce the truth that circumstances will 
not change a man's nature : ' The dog is a dog 
though it wear a gold chain, and the Hon a lion 
though brought up among dogs,' and ' The child 
is a child though kadi of the town.' Idleness 
meets a sharp rebuke in 'A hundred lazy men 
won't build a mosque ' and ' The idle man's head 
is the Devil's home,' or 'storehouse,' as another 
version has it. 

The proverb, « Much pulling (of the rope) cuts 
the well's mouth,' is said to have originated in the 
following story : A boy, once upon a time, found 
the study of Arabic grammar so difficult that he 
despaired of ever learning it, and finally ran away 
from school. After wandering about a long time, 
tired and thirsty, he sat down by a well where 
Arab women were drawing water, and noticed 
how, in the course of years, the soft ropes had worn 


deep grooves in the hard stone coping of the well. 
' My comprehension,' thought he, ' is not so dense 
as that stone, and grammar can surely, in time, 
make more impression on it than these ropes have 
made on the coping, so I will try again.' Accord- 
ingly he went back to school, and (so the story runs) 
ultimately became a famous Arab grammarian. 

Speaking of grammarians, there is a very curious 
proverb which runs as follows : ' I seek the protec- 
tion of God from a Moslem who prays, a Christian 
who turns grammarian, and a Jew who has grown 
rich ; ' the reason of the saying is apparently that 
in each case the man has become intolerably proud 
and conceited. The first part of the proverb throws 
a lurid light on Moslem religiousness, and well 
illustrates a fact, with which anyone who has 
lived much in the East is only too familiar, viz., 
that a Mohammedan who has the highest reputa- 
tion for sanctity may be one of the vilest of 
mankind, and that frequently the more outwardly 
devout he is, the less will his every-day life bear 

The average Oriental feels responsibility but little, 
especially in regard to other people's property, a 
characteristic well brought out in the following: 
1 Like him who lost his aunt's donkey, if he 
find it he sings, and if he doesn't find it he sings.' 
Poverty and riches supply many sayings, such as 
the following : ■ The penniless is the king's debtor.' 
* The pauper is the king's enemy.' ' Wealth which 
comes in at the door unjustly goes out at the 
windows.' ' The marriage of paupers only increases 


beggars.' Speaking of beggars suggests rather an 
amusing proverb, used of a pupil who has eclipsed 
his teacher : ' We taught him to beg, and he has 
anticipated us at the doors.' 

In the East, as everywhere else in the world, the 
tongue is a common cause of discord and disagree- 
ment, while the outdoor life, and close proximity 
of the houses in the towns and villages, furnishes 
unlimited facilities for gossip, with consequent 
quarrels and mischief. ' Sit between two funerals 
rather than between two washerwomen,' says one. 
The point of this is that in the spring and autumn 
a number of peasant women, after heavy rain, will 
go out together into the fields or valleys, where 
pools of water from the storm are to be found, 
and work off their arrears of laundry work. On 
such occasions, as may be well imagined, all the 
scandal of the neighbourhood will be discussed. 
Another proverb runs, ' The gossip of two women 
will destroy two houses,' and another, 'An evil 
tongue, like a shoemaker's knife, cuts only filth.' 
The special force of this last saying lies in the 
double meaning of the word ' cuts,' which signifies 
both 'to cut' and 'to utter words.' The trade of 
a shoemaker has always been rather looked down 
upon in the East, and regarded as an unclean one. 
For this reason, it is said, the evidence of a shoe- 
maker was at one time not accepted in a court 
of law.* 

* A different explanation of this was once given me by an 
educated Syrian, viz., that it was because shoemakers formerly 
were chiefly Christians. But it is, I think, more probable 
that this fact arose from the trade being considered unclean, 


There is much practical wisdom in the following : 
'A slight concession to your enemy, and he will 
grant you all you want ' ; but the next proverb 
arose from a much sadder experience of life : ' An 
enemy will not go but at the cost of a friend.' 
Self-sacrifice is described as ' Like a candle which 
lights others but consumes itself,' to which may 
be added, ' He who hurts not himself does not 
benefit his friend.' The desirability of having an 
opinion of your own is enforced in ' Consult him 
who is older than yourself and him who is younger, 
and come back to your own opinion.' 

Very characteristic is this proverb : ' I speak to 
you, O daughter-in-law, that you may hear, O 
neighbour.' A precocious child is described in 
■ The clever chicken crows in the egg.' One of the 
most frequently quoted proverbs is, ' Haste is from 
the devil ' (and one very widely acted on !). The 
ape is the Oriental ideal of ugliness, as the gazelle 
is the embodiment of beauty ; hence the saying, 
* The ape is, in his mother's eye, a gazelle.' 

A few more miscellaneous proverbs are : ' The 
dog will bark at the king.' ' The dead is the 
best of his family.' ' The cat's away ; look sharp, 
mouse !' ■ Search your house ten times before you 
suspect your neighbour.' This last, if acted on, 
would often save much trouble. 

and that Christians, who were kept constantly reminded of 
the inferiority of their position, were compelled to confine 
themselves to what were held to be degrading occupations. 
Especially would this be likely to be the case where the trade 
in question carried any civil disability with it. 


Loquaciousness is not considered a virtue with 
Easterns, hence the following : ' Much talk lowers 
even the estimable.' Wine-shops are considered 
by the abstemious Orientals as decidedly disreput- 
able ; this fact gives rise to the next saying, used 
to show how calumny makes a crime out of 
nothing : ' He built a wine-shop out of a raisin.' 

The three following proverbs, which show much 
insight and knowledge, may fittingly close this 
sketch of the wit and wisdom of the Fellahin: 
'An hour's pain rather than pain every hour.' 
1 Outside marble, inside ashes.' ' Who has made 
you weep has instructed you, who has made you 
laugh has ridiculed you.' 


'Alim, plural 'Uletna: literally, a 'learned person/ specially one who 

has studied at the Mohammedan University of El Azhar, in Cairo. 

N.B. — Among the Druzes the 'Ulema are the Initiated — i.e., those 

who know the inner secrets of their religion. 
Belku : ' uninhabited ' or ' uncultivated.' A tract of very sparsely in- 
habited country south of Es Salt, east of the Jordan. 
Fellah, plural Fellahia : feminine, Felldhah, plural Fellahut : literally, 

a ploughman ; the peasantry of Palestine. 
Ghor : a ' hollow ' or 'depression.' The name given by the Arabs to 

the valley of the Jordan and Dead Sea. 
Hantfites: one of the four recognised divisions of the Sunnis or orthodox 

Jebel: a hill or mountain. Jebel el Kuds, the hill-country round 

Jerusalem. Jebel Ajlun, the modern name for the Land of Gilead, 

a very hilly district. 
Khattb, plural Khutabuh : a Mohammedan teacher or priest. 
Koran: literally, 'reading'; the Moslem sacred book. 
Neby : a prophet (specially Jewish) or his supposed tomb. 
Nusrdnch, plural Xumrah ; the Moslem term for Christians ; 

Sheikh : literally, an ' old man/ the chief of a village or tribe. 
Wely, plural Ouliah: a Moslem saint or his reputed tomb. 





xix. 28 - 

xxiii. 17 - 

xxix. 1-10 

xxxi. 39 - 

xxxi. 40 - 
xxxiii. 13, 14 
xxxvii. 12-17 


xxvii. 20 - 
xxx. 24 - 


iii. 9 - 
xxvi. 26 - 


vi. 5 - 

xvii. 8 - 

xxii. 24 - 

xxxvi. 1-12 


xi. 14 - 

xxii. 8 - 

xxii. 10 - 
xxiv. 6 - 
xxiv. 20 - 

xxv. 4 - 


xvii. 15, 18 


iii. 20 - 

iii. 23 - 

v. 30 - 

xvii. 10 - 

xx. 47 - 













ii. 7, 15-17 

- 207 

iii. 15 - 

- 144 

1 Samuel. 

i. 24 - 

- 96 

xiii. 19 - 

- 87 

xv. 33 - 

- 95 

xvii. 34, 35 - 

- 182 

xvii. 40 - 

- 183 

xxiv. 3 - 

- 176 

xxv. 3 - - 

• 92 

2 Samuel. 

vii. 27 - 

- 94 

xx. 9 - 

- 273 

1 Kings. 

xi. 38 - 

- 94 

xix. 5 - 

- 128 

xix. 18 - 

- 52 

xix. 19 - 

- 199 

2 Kings. 

iii. 11 - 

- 127 

iv. 10 - 

- 61 

v. 19 - 

- 269 

viii. 15 - 

- 139 

2 Chronicles. 

xxii. 9 - 

- 92 


iv. 3 




20 - 



18 - 



4 - 



26, 27 



27 - 









i. 4 



- 209 

xxiii. 2 



- 173 

1. 21 



- 13 

cxxviii. 3 



- 227 

cxxxiii. 3 



- 241 

Pro 1 


xxvii. 25 


- 203 

xxviii. 3 



- 197 



ii. 4 



• 117 


i. 7 



- 173 

iv. 16 



- 233 

v. 4 



- 68 


xvii. 18 



- 209 

xxii. 13 



- 70 

xxvii. 12 



- 231 

xxxiii. 12 



- 244 

xxxviii. 12 



- 176 

xli. 15 



- 210 

xli. 25 



- 252 

xlix. 10 



- 230 

li. 1 



- 247 


xii. 10, 



- 179 

xviii. 3 



- 252 

xxiv. 2 



- 239 

xxxii. 43, 



- 163 

xli. 17 



- 277 



ii. 6 


12 - 


10 - 


29 - 


. 10 - 


. 11 - 


.3 - 


. 15 - 


. 5 - 





iv. 5, 6 
iv. 8 - 


ix. 9 






vii. 14 - 


X. 1 - 

St. Matthew. 
x. 9 - 
x. 27 - 
xvii. 24-27 
xxi. 17-19 - 
xxi. 33 - 
xxiv. 17 - 
xxiv. 18 - 
xxiv. 41 - 
xxv. 1-13 
xxvi. 48, 49 - 
xxvii. 7 - 

St. Mark. 
vi. 39 - 
xi. 13 - 

St. Luke. 

ii. 7 - 

ii. 8 - 

iii. 22, 23 - 

v. 19 - 

vi. 38 - 

xi. 44 - 

xii. 18 - 

xiii. 6 - 

xiv. 19 - 

xxii. 31 - 

St. John. 
vi. 9 - 
x. 3 - 
x. 4, 5 


iii. 6 - - 
xviii. 1-3 


viii. 19 - 

1 Corinthians. 

ix. 7 - 

ix. 9 - - - 
xviii. 22 - 



- 174 
1<)7, 194 

18, 140 

- 7<> 

- 20 

- 124 

- 234 

- 71 

- 201 

- 119 

- Ill 

- 272 

- 158 

- 220 

- 239 

- 89 

- 177 

- 38 

- 71 

- 212 

- 158 

- 137 

- 238 

- 195 

127, 253 

- 165 
104, 166 

- 20 

- 259 

- 287 

- 181 

- 211 




'Afir, 195 
Agriculture, 188 
'Alim, 16 
'Aliyeh, 61 
Armenian Church, 37 

time of celebration of 
Christmas, 38 


Baptism in Greek Church, 42 

Baraghafeh, 78 

Barter, 76 

Baskets, 254 

Bedding, 139 

Beggars, 287 

Bethlehem, 177 

Betrothal, 109 

Blacksmiths, 87 

Blindness, 150 

Blue eyes, supposed power of, 49 

Booths, 218 

Borrowing, 288 

Breadmaking, 119 

Buffaloes, 184 

Building-stone, varieties of, 62 

Burghal, 125 

Burial, 157 

Butter, 132 


Camels, 184 

vindictiveness of, 185 
Carpenters, 244 
Catholic brandies of Eastern 

Churches, 38 
Cattle, 183 

-stealers, 285 

-markets, 77 
Charcoal, 248 
Charms, 50 

Cheese, 132 

Cholera, 151 

Chrism, the, 42 

Christmas, date of Armenian, 38 

Churclies, Greek, 43 

consecration of, 43 
Cisterns, 72 
Climate, 192 
Coffee, 279 
Conscription, 83 
Contrast between old and new 

order of things, 8 
Convent of the Cross, 44 
Cooking, 125 
Corn-bins, 136 
Corn, cleaning, 122 
measuring, 212 
Crops, 213 
Currency, 298 
Customs, funeral, 156 
Cutting down fruit-trees, 28(5 


Dances, 113 
Days, ' borrowed,' 195 
Dervishes, 16 
Dew, 241 
Dialects, 5, 85 
Dibs, 236 
Diseases, 147 
Divorce, 105 
Dogs, 180 
Domed roofs, 63 
Dowry, 109 
Dress, 139 

of Greek priests, 41 

of women, 143 
Druzes, 32 

belief, 34 

initiated and unitiated, 33 
Duffur, 239 





Easter, 45 

eggs, 46 
Education, 99 
Eggs, coloured, at Moslem feast, 

Evil eye, the, 48 

charms against, 49 


' Far be it from you,' 104 
Fasts, Greek, 47 
Fate, 29 
Fellahin, 188 

low idea of God, 13 

meaning of name, 188 

origin, 3 

religious, 12 

reticence about customs, 7 
Fields, 163 

Fig-trees of the road, 239 
Figs, 238 

dried, 240 
Firewood, bringing, 128 
Fish, dried, 253 
Fishing, 252 
Floods, 196 
Forests, 222 
Fox, cunning of, 257 
Funeral customs, 156 


Gambling, 98 

Games, 97 

Gardens, watered, 220 

Gleaning, 207 

Goats and sheep, separating, 181 

' Go in peace,' 269 

Grafting, 228 

Greek Church, 37 

Grinding corn, 117 

Guest-bouses, 277 

Gunpowder, 247 

Gipsies, 86 


Handmills, 118 
Hand of Might, the, 49 
Harvest, 205 

Head-dress, women's, 144 
Hellenic ecclesiastics, 39 
Holy Fire, ceremony of, 45 
Houses, description of, 59 

Housetops, 71, 68 
Hunting, 256 


Idiots, 155 

Ikhtiyariyah, 81 

Imam, Ali, the fourth, 13, note 

Imams, village, 14 

Improvisors, 88 

Innovations, 8 

Interest, high rate of, 289 

Irrigation, 203 

Islam, 12, note 

sects of, 13, note 


Jars, 137 
Jebel Ajlun, 164 
el Kuds, 149 
Jewellery, 130, 253 
Justice, 283 


Kes and Yemen, 77 

Khalweh, Druze place of worship, 

Khans, 277 
Kids and lambs, 182 
Kissing, 273 
Koran, the, 12 
Kusah, 274 


Land, tenure of, 189 

Language spoken by our Lord, 

Lawful and unlawful actions, 54 
Leaven, 119 
Leben, 132 
Leprosy, 152 
Life, family, 102 
Lime, burning, 243 
Locks, wooden, 67 
Locusts, 223 
Looms, 260 


Marketing, 134 

Maronites, 37 

Mares, partnership in, 294 

Marriage, 107 

Mar Saba, monastery of, 44 

Mats, 138, 254 

Meals, 124 

evening, 126, 279 



Merit, doctrine of, 31, 32 
Met'awali, 13, note 
Midhat Pasha, 4 
Milestones, Roman, 262 
Mills, 231 

water, 249 
' Minaret/ meaning of word, 21, 

' Modern Canaanites,' 3 
Monasteries, Greek, 44 
Money, various kinds of, 208 
Moslem, meaning of the term, 12 
Moslems, attitude towards Chris- 
tians, 36 

low idea of God, 13 

reverence for the Old Testa- 
ment, 12 

saints, 12 
Mosques, 21 
Mothers-in-law, 116 
Mukhtars, 82 
Murders, 284 
Musical instruments, 300 
Muzzling, 211 


Names, 93 

Naming a child, 91 

Native industries dying out, 5 

Neby Miisa, feast of, 24 

shrine of, 29 
Neighbours, 275 
Needlework, 129 
Noah, tomb of, 26 


Oil, olive, 231 
Oil-mills, 231 
Oil-presses, 232 
Olives, 226 
Oranges, 240 
Ovens, 1 20 


Parapets, 71 
Pedlars, 77 
Ploughing, 195, 198 
ox and ass, 198 
Ploughs, 201 
Polygamy, 104 
Pottery, 251 
Prayer, 55 

Priests, village, 40 

dress of, 41 

long hair of, 42 

salaries of, 40 
Protestants, 39 
Proverbs, 302 


Rainfall, 194 

Rains, former and latter, 193 
Raisins, 236 

Ramadthan, month of fasting, 22 
Ready-money, scarcity of, 19 
Reaping, 205 
Religions, 12 

Religiousness of Fellahin, 10 
Roads, 262 
Robbers, 169 
Roofs, 65 
flat, 69 


Sahrah, or watching, 83 
Sakiveh, 221 
Salutations, 11, 263 
Scrip, 183 
Seals, 299 
Sects, Moslem, 13 
Seventy, the, mission of, illus- 
trated, 19 
Shaduf, 221 

Shazeliyeh, a Moslem sect, 13 
Sheep-dogs, 180 
Sheep, fat-tailed, 133, 175 

feeding of, 174 

-folds, 176 

resting, 173 

straying, 171 

watering of, 172 
Sheikh, 80 
Shepherds, 161 

tents, 164 

wages, 180 

weapons, 182 
Sherif, 141 
Shoemakers, 256 
Shoes, 142 
Shops, 73 
Sirocco, 192, 229 
Slings, 98 
Smoking, 127 
Spinning, 257 
Snow, 177 
Spirits, belief in, 53 



Spoil, 162 

Sponsors, 93 

Springs, 218 

Staircases, outside, 71 

Sunnis, or orthodox Moslems, 13 

Superstitions, 47 

Swaddling-clothes, 89 


Tattooing, 115 

Taxation, 6, 290 

Taxes, farming of, 293 

Temple flocks, 176 

Tent-making, 259 

Tents, shepherds', 164, 258 

Terraces, 199 

Threshing-floors, 207 

Tibn, 209 

Tiling, 72 

Time, reckoning of, 296 

Tobacco, 215 

Tombs, 157 

Treasure, buried, 256 


Uniat Churches, 38, note 
Unlucky events, 51 
Upper rooms, 61 
Usury, 209 


Vaccination, 14!) 
Villages, sights of, 57 
Vines, 232 
Vineyards, 233 

path through, 234 

towers in, 234 


Wages, shepherds', 180 

Washing, 123 

Water, drawing of, 128 

Water-mills, 249 

Watch-towers in vineyards, 234 

Weapons, shepherds', 182 

Weavers, 5 

Weaving, 260 

Wedding ceremony, Moslem, 112 
customs, 113 
processions, 111 

Weddings, 110 

superstitions about, 115 

Wely, Moslem saint, 25 
Fellahin dread of, 27 
intercession of, 26, 29 
pillars in honour of, 28 

Winnowing, 209 

Wolves, 166 

Women, degradation of, 103 






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JAN 25 J999 

LD 21A-50m-3,'62 

General Library 

University of California 


LD 21-l00w-7,'33 


YD 09637